Background: Birth cohort and other longitudinal studies of children’s health, development and behaviour have provided important information on child and adult outcomes. This has allowed evidence based policy and programme development targeted at issues specific to countries. Few studies have been conducted in developing countries. This paper reports on the findings and policy implications of two comprehensive longitudinal studies in Jamaica.
Method: The findings of the Jamaican Birth Cohort Studies, conducted between 1986 and 2003, and the Profiles Project, a longitudinal study commencing in 1999 when children were six years, were reviewed. Recommendations from the studies and their impact on policy and programme development for Jamaican children were identified.
Results: Policy and programme impact were identified in areas of child poverty intervention, parenting, social activities, violence and aggression, health and nutrition, screening and early intervention, setting of standards for early childhood institutions, gender, early childhood indicators and education and training. Policy and programme impact were national, regional and international.
Conclusion: Comprehensive longitudinal studies of children in developing countries, though costly, provide wide-ranging and important information for policy and programme development.