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The wales electronic cohort for children (WECC) study
  1. M Hyatt1,
  2. S E Rodgers1,
  3. S Paranjothy2,
  4. D Fone2,
  5. R A Lyons1
  1. 1Health Information Research Unit, School of Medicine, Swansea University, Swansea, UK
  2. 2Department of Primary Care and Public Health, School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK


Using record linkage we have designed the first complete population e-cohort in the UK: ‘Wales Electronic Cohort for Children’ (WECC) to investigate the broadest possible range of social and environmental determinants of child health and social outcomes by exploiting the potential of routinely collected datasets. Study aims, at the outset, are broad and include careful examination of how routine health, social, education and environmental factors impact on health and physical well-being of children in Wales, from birth up to 19 years of age.

WECC anonymously record-links routinely collected data, held within the Secure Anonymised Information Linkage (SAIL) databank, Swansea University. Anonymous linking fields are used to link records for the same child with both their mothers and their local environment data.

The WECC cohort includes children born: (a) ≥24 weeks gestation; (b) to Welsh resident mother at birth, or a child resident in Wales between 1990–2008, identified from the Welsh Demographic Service. SAIL datasets were cross-referenced for key demographic information including week of birth, gender and birth weight; a discrepancy rate of <1% in data quality was confirmed. Currently, WECC consists of 765 942 children (♂:392 349, ♀: 373 596) born to 375 025 mothers, of these 140 708 children moved into Wales following birth.

The WECC study demonstrates electronic linkage of routinely collected health and social care datasets is feasible. This study provides a demonstration project to support translational research across the life course and disease spectrum to further understand aetiology of chronic conditions, and identify potentially modifiable protective, and risk factors.

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