Unleashing the research potential of a population-based data system: integrating community-centred, life-course, linked-data, and longitudinal approaches to monitoring child health and development

Early Child Development (ECD) – the development of physical, social-emotional, and language-cognitive capacities in the early years – is recognised as having life-long effects on health, well-being, behaviour, and skill acquisition. Population-based ECD research is essential for understanding the capacity of our future population. British Columbia is at the forefront of population-based research in ECD, thanks to a rich database created by the Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP) at the University of British Columbia. Here, health scientists can access population-based data on children’s health and development, and link these data to other administrative and research databases, such as Statistics Canada’s neighbourhood-level census file. Making use of these state-of-the-art data resources, Dr. Jennifer Lloyd is exploring the pathways of early developmental experiences to later educational outcomes, the relationship between children’s developmental trajectories and their neighbourhoods of residence, and the patterns in which children’s health and development present themselves as gradients when assessed against the socioeconomic characteristics of their residential neighbourhoods.. Lloyd’s research will explore inequalities in children’s developmental trajectories in an unprecedented fashion in British Columbia. In terms of policy and practice, her research stands to influence health delivery systems by providing evidence to guide public health and social policies and program development, and to assist in reducing gaps in existing patterns of children’s development and educational outcomes in British Columbia and beyond.