AM Nuttall, E Ayaz, L Sherlock et al
Journal Issue: 
Volume 45: Issue 1: 2015



Historians have long used maternity records to understand the evolution of maternity services. More recently, epidemiologists have become interested in obstetric hospital records as a source of data (e.g. birth weight, social class), to study the influence of early life on future health and disease: life course epidemiology. Edinburgh and Aberdeen are unusual in holding detailed records from several maternity institutions. The records of 1936 are of particular interest because all children born in this year and at school in Scotland at age 11 sat a cognitive ability test, the Scottish Mental Survey 1947. This study aims to describe the maternity services in Edinburgh and Aberdeen in 1936, between the First and Second World Wars. Understanding the richness of data in birth records, the manner in which they were recorded, and the context of the institutions in their community is essential for interpreting life course epidemiology studies.