Intended for healthcare professionals


Use of personal child health records in the UK: findings from the millennium cohort study

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 02 February 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:269
  1. Suzanne Walton, specialist registrar in public health (S.Walton{at},
  2. Helen Bedford, senior lecturer1,
  3. Carol Dezateux, professor

    the Millennium Cohort Study Child Health Group

  1. 1 Centre for Paediatric Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Institute of Child Health, London WC1N 1EH
  1. Correspondence to: S Walton
  • Accepted 14 November 2005


Objectives The personal child health record (PCHR) is a record of a child's growth, development, and uptake of preventive health services, designed to enhance communication between parents and health professionals. We examined its use throughout the United Kingdom with respect to recording children's weight and measures of social disadvantage and infant health.

Design Cross sectional survey within a cohort study.

Setting UK.

Participants Mothers of 18 503 children born between 2000 and 2002, living in the UK at 9 months of age.

Main outcome measures Proportion of mothers able to produce their child's PCHR; proportion of PCHRs consulted containing record of child's last weight; effective use of the PCHR (defined as production, consultation, and child's last weight recorded).

Results In all, 16 917 (93%) mothers produced their child's PCHR and 15 138 (85%) mothers showed effective use of their child's PCHR. Last weight was recorded in 97% of PCHRs consulted. Effective use was less in children previously admitted to hospital, and, in association with factors reflecting social disadvantage, including residence in disadvantaged communities, young maternal age, large family size (four or more children; incidence rate ratio 0.87; 95% confidence interval 0.83 to 0.91), and lone parent status (0.88; 0.86 to 0.91).

Conclusions Use of the PCHR is lower by women living in disadvantaged circumstances, but overall the record is retained and used by a high proportion of all mothers throughout the UK in their child's first year of life. PCHR use is endorsed in the National Service Framework for Children and has potential benefits which extend beyond the direct care of individual children.


  • We thank all the millennium cohort families for their participation and Professor Heather Joshi, director of the millennium cohort study and her colleagues in the millennium cohort study management team at the Centre for Longitudinal Studies, Institute of Education, University of London. The other members of the Millennium Cohort Study Child Health Group who contributed to this work were Suzanne Bartington, Neville Butler, Tim Cole, Lucy Griffiths, Catherine Law, Catherine Peckham, Lamiya Samad, and Rosemary Tate.

  • Contributors SW, HB, and CD developed the research questions and data analysis and interpretation. They wrote the first draft of the paper. Members of the Millennium Cohort Study Child Health Group contributed to the paper through analysis and construction of explanatory variables and commented on data interpretation and early drafts of the manuscript. SW is guarantor.

  • Funding The millennium cohort study is funded by grants from the Economic and Social Research Council and a consortium of government departments led by the Office for National Statistics. SW completed this work while on academic secondment from the London Deanery Public Health Training Scheme. Research at the Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust benefits from R&D funding received from the NHS Executive.

  • Competing interests HB is chairwoman of the PCHR subcommittee of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. This paper was written in a personal capacity.

  • Ethical approval The millennium cohort study was approved by the London Multicentre Research Ethics Committee. This analysis needed no further approval.

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