Aims This abstract addresses the following questions:
▶ What is the extent and character of health and developmental inequalities in Scotland in the early years?
▶ What factros are associated with children from disadvantaged backgrounds avoiding negative outcomes?
Methods The abstract uses data from the first five waves of the Growing Up in Scotland (GUS) longitudinal study. GUS started in 2005 with 5,000 babies born in Scotland, selected at random from Child Benefit records. Annual data collection began at age 10 months but information about the pregnancy was also collected. Health/developmental inequalities were defined as socio-economic differences in outcomes and risk factors for poor outcomes. The analysis spans the time from pre-conception to age 46 months
Results Social gradients exist for many health and developmental outcomes, for example (table 1):
Similar, but generally steeper, gradients exist for a range of risk factors (table 2):
Regression analysis showed that children from socio-economically deprived backgrounds were less likely to have negative outcomes if their mother had not experienced long-term health problems, if they lived in a household with at least one adult in full-time work, or had an enriching home learning environment. Girls and children of mothers aged over 25 were also less likely to have negative outcomes.
Conclusions The analysis underlines the powerful potential for early identification of problems and intervention, particularly in cognitive and behavioural development, coupled with action to combat poverty and exclusion. Scotland's new programme of 24-30 month reviews could potentially contribute to improving outcomes in this area.