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Research Background

Most people in Hong Kong remember 1997 to be a significant year because Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. However, for a small group of researchers from The University of Hong Kong and the Department of Health, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, 1997 was the year that one of Asia's largest birth cohorts was begun. 

Given the smoking epidemic in China and the strong presence in the field of tobacco control of the Department of Community Medicine (predecessor of the School of Public Health) at the Faculty of Medicine, the study was originally designed to provide high quality evidence concerning the impact of second-hand smoking on infant health. This study was funded by the Health Care and Promotion Fund of Hong Kong. 

About "Children of 1997"

Participants were recruited at their first postnatal visit to any one of all 49 Maternal and Child Health Centres in Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, families of newborns are encouraged to visit these centres for physical examinations, monitoring growth and development, and vaccinations on a regular basis throughout preschool period.

A total of 8,327 infants were recruited, which accounted for 88% of all births from April to May 1997 in Hong Kong. Almost all participants are of Chinese origin, whereas the non-recruits are likely short-term residents. Active follow-up continued until 18 months of age, using self-administered questionnaires at 3, 9 and 18 months, supplemented by telephone interviews where necessary. In 2005, study was restarted to create a birth cohort, using record linkage to information routinely collected by government agencies, including the Maternal and Child Health Centre, Student Health Service and Hospital Authority. Contact was re-established from 2007 onwards with most of the birth cohort families for regular follow-up in the future.

"Children of 1997" Birth Cohort​

These original recruits and their families have become participants in the “Children of 1997” Birth Cohort. We are very grateful for their continued support and participation throughout the study. Research findings have been widely published in international medical journals and in the media, these provide evidence to support and promote public health initiatives, such as the implementation of the smoking ban in Hong Kong in 2007. In the near future, we will continue to explore and investigate questions that aim to understand the origins of health and disease in Hong Kong in the region and globally, particularly, where rapid development is taking place.

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