Epidemiology and Infection

Original Papers

Methods

Feasibility of collecting oral fluid samples in the home setting to determine seroprevalence of infections in a large-scale cohort of preschool-aged children

S. E. BARTINGTONa1 c1, C. PECKHAMa1, D. BROWNa2, H. JOSHIa3 and C. DEZATEUXa1

the Millennium Cohort Study Child Health Group

a1 MRC Centre of Epidemiology for Child Health, UCL Institute of Child Health, London, UK

a2 Centre for Infections, Health Protection Agency, London, UK

a3 Centre for Longitudinal Studies, Institute of Education, London UK

SUMMARY

Oral fluid is a non-invasive biological sample, which can be returned by post, making it suitable for large-scale epidemiological studies in children. We report our experience of oral fluid collection from 14 373 preschool-aged children in the UK Millennium Cohort Study. Samples were collected by mothers in the home setting following the guidance of trained interviewers, and posted to the laboratory. Samples were received from 11 698 children (81·4%). Children whose mothers were of Black Caribbean ethnicity and who lived in non-English-speaking households were less likely to provide a sample, and those with a maternal history of asthma more likely to provide a sample [adjusted risk ratio (95% CI) 0·85 (0·73–0·98), 0·87 (0·77–0·98) and 1·03 (1·00–1·05) respectively]. Collection of oral fluid samples is feasible and acceptable in large-scale child cohort studies. Formal interpreter support may be required to increase participation rates in surveys that collect biological samples from ethnic minorities.

(Accepted May 28 2008)

(Online publication June 30 2008)

Correspondence:

c1 Author for correspondence: Miss S. E. Bartington, MRC Centre of Epidemiology for Child Health, UCL Institute of Child Health, 30 Guilford Street, London, UK. (Email: s.bartington@ich.ucl.ac.uk)

Footnotes

† Members of the Millennium Cohort Study Child Health Group are given in the Appendix.

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