Discussant chapter—using family-based designs in life course epidemiology
The three chapters in this section offer different but complementary conceptualizations of ‘family’. Morton and Rich Edwards used ‘family’ to document inter-generational concordance of reproductive outcomes, Hatch and Mishra documented how ‘family’ could be characterized as a risk exposure for later poor mental health, and Lawlor and Leon used ‘family’ as a means to control for unmeasured confounding by family characteristics to better understand causal mechanisms relating fetal growth to later disease. Lawlor and Leon's approach is similar to that used in studies examining the possible intrauterine origins of birth weight and cognitive ability and this chapter briefly explores that literature. Families surely matter for better understanding individual and population patterns of ill-health.
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