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The Evidence for Better Lives Study (EBLS) has at its core an eight-site longitudinal cohort study of child development. The sites are medium-sized cities chosen to reflect the diversity of social and cultural conditions across the globe, including South America, the Caribbean, Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Indian Subcontinent and South East Asia. The focus on sites in both low- and middle-income, as well as in high-income countries, will promote long-term sustainable ‘North-South’ as well as ‘South-South’ collaboration as part of the EBLS capacity-building programme.

The Study will initially cover the first five years of life, with the ultimate goal of following participants until at least adolescence. Four waves of data collection are currently planned, starting at birth and including further assessments when the child is 6, 18 and 30 months old. In each wave, child assessments and interviews with the mothers will be conducted. The study will also include repeated interviews with the fathers, whose important role in early child development has often been neglected.

The Study will track the development of child well-being and the emergence of early symptoms of mental health and conduct problems through multiple data collection strategies. It will collect data on a comprehensive set of individual and contextual risk and protective factors, including prenatal exposures, child biological, neurocognitive and temperamental factors, family functioning and environment (including parenting practices) and neighbourhood characteristics. Instruments will be created that can be used and compared across different cultures. New territory will be broken by identifying and measuring culturally specific risk and protective processes.

The Study will also include a major intervention component, supported by the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children, UNICEF and the World Health Organization. In particular, EBLS will work with local and national public health and child protection authorities to support the development and delivery of an evidence-based package of measures designed to promote healthy early child development and better protection from childhood adversities. Throughout the study, the delivery of these interventions and their effects on trajectories of child development will be assessed. 

You can download the full Concept Note here and read a short update of the Study and its future plans here.