The original study (1969-73) had five main objectives: (i) to study the relationship of birth weight (BW) and gestational age (GA) to infant mortality and the incidence of congenital defects; (ii) to study maternal blood pressure before and during pregnancy and the incidence of toxaemia; (iii) to assess the effects of parental consanguinity on reproductive outcomes; (iv) to examine the impact of family planning programmes on fertility and (v) to estimate rates of foetal loss, and neonatal, infant and early childhood mortality.1 The subsequent follow-up studies focused on the effects of prenatal factors BW and GA on physical growth and development and mortality during childhood and adolescence.

For the follow-up in young adulthood (1998-2002), the main objective was to study glucose tolerance, insulin resistance and insulin secretion and a range of cardiovascular risk factors (body composition, blood pressure and plasma lipid concentrations) in relation to parental size, neonatal size and childhood growth.