CollectionGB 0231 University of Aberdeen, Special Collections
Ref NoMS 2629/1/1
TitleAberdeen Growth Study
Extent4 bundles, 2 notebooks, 2 booklets
Administrative HistoryThe Aberdeen Growth Study (1956) is the most important body of research to emerge from the University of Aberdeen's Anthropometric Laboratory. Based upon a unique data set created by Alexander Low, it was the first anthropometric study to demonstrate a clear, practical application of the discipline to modern medical, social and public health professionals.

The foundations of the study were laid in the period 1923-1927, when Low took a series of 21 physical measurements from 900 newborn babies. In the following years, he succeeded in re-measuring 66 male and 60 female children again on every birthday up to and including their fifth. This work was unique because it was the first study to systematically measure the same children over a period of years, using clearly defied measurement techniques, and undertaken by the same individual throughout.

The results of Low's research were not published during his lifetime, but the following three papers were published post-humously:
'Measurements of Infants at Birth (450 male and 450 female children) in 'Annals of Eugenics', 15.3 (1950) pp 210-218;
'The Growth of Children: sixty-six boys and sixty girls each measured at three days, and at one, two, three, four and five yeas of age' (Aberdeen: University of Aberdeen, 1952);
'Growth of Twins and Triplets, identical and fraternal, each child measured from infancy, some followed up to the 16th and 20th year of age' (in preparation in 1952. publication details not yet established).

In 1953, Low's successor in the Anatomy Chair, Robert Lockhart, obtained financial assistance from the British Medical Council to extend this research. In collaboration with J.M. Tanner, of the Institute of Public Health, University of London, and J.R. Healy, of the Harpenden Growth Study, Rothamstead Experimental Station, Hertfordshire, nearly two thirds of Low’s ‘baby-to-five-years’ subjects were re-measured in adulthood. Their results were published as 'Aberdeen Growth Study. I. The prediction of adult body measurements from measurements taken each year from birth to 5 years' in 'Archives of Disease in Childhood' (1956), pp 372-381.
DescriptionPapers relating to Low's research on human growth, including the original 126 record cards used in his Aberdeen Growth Study, and copies of two research papers based on this work: Alexander Low, Growth of Children: sixty-six boys and sixty girls each measured at three days, and at one, two, three, four, and five years of age (Aberdeen: University of Aberdeen, 1952); and J.M. Tanner and others, Aberdeen Growth Study: I , in Archives of Disease in Childhood , 3, 159 (1956).
Access StatusOpen
Access ConditionsThe records are available, subject to the signed acceptance of the Department's access conditions
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