Health

Health

 

Child

The child survey has regularly collected a range of detailed information on each child's current health conditions and health history. Table 1 gives an overview of the types of reports of physical development and mental health asked over the survey rounds for children.

Table 1. Health Data in the NLSY79 Child Surveys

Child Health 1986

1988-1992

1994 1996-2002 2004-current survey
Rating of child's health       M M
Does health limit school or play M M M M M
Physical, emotional, or mental condition requiring: treatment, medicine, or special equipment M M M M M
Type/duration of limiting health conditions M M M M M
Accidents/injuries needing medical attention in last 12 months M M M M M
Accidents/injuries needing hospitalization since last interview/since birth   M M M M
Number of illnesses requiring medical attention or treatment M M M M M
Date of last routine health checkup M M M M M
Date of last dental checkup/work M M M M M
Source of health insurance, if any M M M M M
Behavioral, emotional, or mental problems; did insurance cover doctor visit M M M M M
Or prescription drugs taken to help control activity/behavior M M M M M
Menarche; age at 1st menses for female child (and mother) M M M M M
Right/left handedness       M M
Child's eye and hair color M        
Height and body weight of child M-I M-I M-I M-I M-I
Healthcare during pregnancy leading to child's birth1 M M M M M
Postnatal infant healthcare and feeding1 M M M M M
Temperament Scales (<4 years) M M M M M
Motor and Social Development Scale (<4 years) M M M M M
Behavior Problems Index (4+ years) M M M M M
Asthma         M/C
Cigarette use; age first smoked; frequency   C C C C
Alcohol use; age first drank; frequency   C C C C
Marijuana use; age first used; frequency   C C C C
Substance use (like glue, gas, sprays, fluids) that are "sniffed/huffed"; age first used; frequency     C C C
Other drug use (LSD, cocaine, uppers, downers); age first used; frequency   C C C C
 
NOTE:  Users are reminded that, while Child and Young Adult health items are presented separately in this table, all child health items were collected for young adults when they were age 14 or younger in the years their mothers were interviewed.
"C" denotes child report, "M" denotes mother report, and "M-I" denotes either mother report or interviewer measurement (with a flag indicating the source of report for each survey year).
1 Pre- and postnatal items have been asked in the mother's main Youth interview since 1982 so that most information has been collected for most births.  This information includes child's birth weight and length, mother's weight gain, type of delivery, etc.

Overall rating of child's health

Starting in 1996, mothers have been asked to rate the child's health on a 4-point scale from "poor" to "excellent."

The items that indicate the mother's rating of each child's general health, for children under age 15, are listed below:

Question Name Description Survey Year
MS961711 SCHOOL & FAMILY BACKGROUND: MOTHER RATING OF CHILD HEALTH 
1996
MS985019A
SCHOOL & FAMILY BACKGROUND: MOTHER RATING OF CHILD HEALTH
1998
BKGN-46A
CHILD BACKGROUND: MOTHER RATING OF CHILD HEALTH 
2000-2004
MS-BKGN-46A CHILD BACKGROUND: MOTHER RATING OF CHILD HEALTH
2006-present

Health conditions

NLSY79 mothers are also asked to report on their children's health history and medical treatment received in the twelve months prior to the survey. The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) was the principal source for various NLSY79 child health questions. For example, the limiting conditions questions are taken from the Child Core of the NHIS and from the NHIS Parent questionnaire section on family involvement in education (i.e., PJ3. Does CHILD have any physical, emotional, or mental condition that limits or interferes with his or her ability to do regular schoolwork? To take part in sports, games, or other activities with children his or her age?). Through 2000, a mark-all item for a list of limiting conditions was accompanied by a single follow-up question  asking how long has the child had the limiting condition(s). Starting in 2002, updates in the design of the NLSY79 Child questionnaire allow users to identify potentially unrelated limiting conditions when multiple conditions are reported, along with the duration and onset of these various separate conditions.

Accidents and injuries

Questions about child accidents and injuries were asked beginning with the 1988 survey. Mothers report: 1) whether the child had an accident in the past 12 months that required medical attention, and 2) whether the child ever had an accident (not necessarily in the past 12 months) requiring hospitalization.  If the mother answers yes to either of these questions, she is asked the specific month and year of the three most recent accidents.  The way that these questions have been framed means that information is available for varying time periods for different children.  Some researchers interested in linking these events with maternal work history have organized the data into quarters to deal with the seasonal patterns in accident rates (Currie and Hotz, 2001). The NHIS series on accidents and injuries was the source of these NLSY79 child questions.

Asthma

With support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a series of asthma-related health questions was added to the NLSY79 main Youth, Child, and young adult in 2004. Mothers were asked if they had ever been diagnosed with asthma, their age when diagnosed, whether they still had the disease, when they last had experienced symptoms, if there had been any episodes in the past 12 months, whether unscheduled medical care had been received in the past 12 months due to asthma, what medicine they used for quick relief from asthma attacks, and whether they used a daily medication to prevent attacks. Respondents were asked how much the asthma limited their activities and whether their sleep was disrupted because of the illness. They were also asked whether they had smoked in the past 30 days, how often, how many cigarettes per day, whether anyone else had smoked in the house in the past 2 weeks, and whether they had been diagnosed with any other chronic lung diseases.

Mothers were asked similar asthma-related questions about their children. Respondents reported whether any of their children had been diagnosed with asthma; at what age each child had been diagnosed; whether the child's father had ever been diagnosed with asthma; whether the child had experienced any episodes in the last 12 months; whether unscheduled medical care had been received for the child in the last 12 months due to asthma; how many school days had been missed due to asthma; whether any sleep had been missed or activities limited due to asthma; and whether asthma medications were taken.

The NLSY79 child-based asthma items labeled ASTHMAyyyy in the child datafile are based on inputs from the NLSY Main Youth interview, in which mothers report asthma symptoms for each biological child under age 15.

Below is an example, based on the 2004 survey information, of the mother reports that are the source of the child-based asthma items:

NLSY79 Reference Number NLSY79 Question Name NLSY79 Description Year
R81309.00 Q9-59-ASTHMA-M1.01  ANY CHILDREN DIAGNOSED WITH ASTHMA? 2004
R81311.00 Q9-59-ASTHMA-M3_1.01 BIO CHILD 1 DIAGNOSED WITH ASTHMA 2004
R81312.00 Q9-59-ASTHMA-M3_2.01 BIO CHILD 2 DIAGNOSED WITH ASTHMA 2004
R81313.00 Q9-59-ASTHMA-M3_3.01 BIO CHILD 3 DIAGNOSED WITH ASTHMA 2004
R81314.00 Q9-59-ASTHMA-M3_4.01 BIO CHILD 4 DIAGNOSED WITH ASTHMA 2004
R81315.00 Q9-59-ASTHMA-M3_5.01 BIO CHILD 5 DIAGNOSED WITH ASTHMA 2004
R81316.00 Q9-59-ASTHMA-M3_6.01 BIO CHILD 6 DIAGNOSED WITH ASTHMA 2004
R81317.00 Q9-59-ASTHMA-M3_7.01 BIO CHILD 7 DIAGNOSED WITH ASTHMA 2004

In 2004, a total of 480 mothers, out of 1914 with at least one biological child under age 15, reported a child diagnosed with asthma in 2004 and a  total of 623 children under age 15 were identified as having asthma.

Children 10 and older were asked if they had had any asthma symptoms in the past month, how much asthma limited school work, participation in physical education class, and physical activities. Question names for asthma items from the Child Supplement begin with the stem CS-ASTHMA. These items can be found in the CHILD HEALTH and year-specific CHILD SUPPLEMENT areas of interest.

Birth histories

On a regular basis, the NLSY79 has collected pre- and postnatal care information from the sample women as they became mothers. Fertility questions in the main Youth interview ask about all pregnancies/live births, a cumulative inventory of all children reported, and contraceptive methods used. NLSY79 mothers report on their health and behavior during each pregnancy. Pre- and postnatal practices are detailed below under "Prenatal and infant care."

Handedness

Beginning in 1996, NLSY79 mothers are asked several questions about whether each child is right-handed or left-handed. Through 2000 the handedness questions are in the MOTHER SUPPLEMENT area of interest. Starting with the 2002 survey year, these questions are assigned to the CHILD SUPPLEMENT area of interest. The Motor and Social Development Scale, explained in detail in the Child Assessments section of the topical guide, also contains items related to when the child held an object in one hand. A more detailed series of handedness questions posed to children once they become eligible for the young adult interview can be found in the YA HEALTH area of interest.

Health care access/Medical visits

Details concerning use of the medical system include the presence, number, and type of accidents, injuries, or illnesses requiring medical attention in the past 12 months; hospitalization history in the past 24 months; timing of last routine health and dental checkups; and coverage by and type of health insurance. The health services questions are drawn from the Child Core of the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).

Health insurance

From the first Child survey in 1986, mothers have been asked in the Child Supplement whether each child is covered by health insurance, not including public assistance, provided either by an employer or by an individual plan. They are also asked whether Medicaid covers each child's health care. Starting in 1994, mothers of young adult children in the household are asked this same set of questions in the fertility section of the main Youth questionnaire. These items are assigned to the BIRTH RECORD areas of interest in the NLSY79 main Youth file and can be linked to specific children by use of the child ID. There are also limited questions about the respondent's health plan related to children in the HEALTH area of interest of the main Youth file. The child health insurance questions are based on the Family Section of the 1981 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).

Health assessments

The child assessment data collection includes a number of questions and scales designed to capture child health information and to measure the child's temperament, motor and social development, and behavior problems. This information is obtained from the mother. The How My Child Usually Acts/Temperament Scale forms a measure of temperament or behavioral style over the past two-week period (in most survey years for children under age seven). The Motor and Social Development Scale measures motor-social-cognitive development for children under age four. The Behavior Problems Index elicits mother ratings of children four years of age or older in areas of problem behavior such as hyperactivity, anxiety, dependency, aggressiveness, and peer conflict.  These child health assessments were originally all in the paper self-administered booklet called the Mother Supplement. In 2000 the questions related to Temperament, Motor & Social Development were moved to CAPI format and administered in the Child Supplement. Data items related to the individual assessment responses are therefore found in the MOTHER SUPPLEMENT areas of interest for 1986-1998 and in both the CHILD SUPPLEMENT and MOTHER SUPPLEMENT areas of interest in 2000. In 2002, all the child health items (except height and weight) are in the MOTHER SUPPLEMENT area of interest.

Height and body weight

Starting in 2000, the method of report questions are named HLTH-HGT-REPT for height and HLTH-WGT-REPT for weight.

Since 2002, a separate question indicates whether the child's height was recorded in feet and inches or in inches only. There is a similar question indicating whether the child's weight was recorded in pounds and ounces or in pounds only. Overall height in inches (HLTH-HGTCALC) and overall weight in pounds (HLTH-WGTCALC) are computed from the entered values. Note that in 2002 only, these calculated height and weight values are reported with two implied decimal places.

Starting in 2006, information on the height and weight of each child is also captured in the Mother Supplement. The question names for these items begin with MS-HLTH-HGT (for height) and MS-HLTH-WGT (for weight). Constructed items calculating total weight in pounds are listed below. The height and weight questions from the Mother Supplement are assigned to both the CHILD HEALTH and year-specific MOTHER SUPPLEMENT areas of interest.

RNUM Question Name Variable Title
Year
C35543.00 MS-HLTH-WGTCALC CHILD HEALTH: MACH CHK - CALCULATE CHILD WEIGHT IN POUNDS FROM ENTERED VALUES 2006
C38991.00 MS-HLTH-WGTCALC CHILD HEALTH: MACH CHK - CALCULATE CHILD WEIGHT IN POUNDS FROM ENTERED VALUES 2008
C51490.00 MS-HLTH-WGTCALC CHILD HEALTH: MACH CHK - CALCULATE CHILD WEIGHT IN POUNDS FROM ENTERED VALUES 2010
C57262.00   MS-HLTH-WGTCALC CHILD HEALTH: MACH CHK - CALCULATE CHILD WEIGHT IN POUNDS FROM ENTERED VALUES 2012

 

Important Information

While an effort is made to review "out of range" values in the child data that are clearly miss-entered, height and weight values generally appear in the database as reported by the mother.

Starting in 2006, children 10 years and older are given a practice item in which they report height and weight as part of the Child Self-Administered Supplement. The question names for these items begin with CSAS-P5.  The height and weight self-report questions are assigned to the CHILD SELF-ADMINISTERED SUPPLEMENT area of interest.

The following table contains the items in the NLSY79 Child database that indicate the type of report for height and weight. Note that starting in 2006, there are potentially two reports for each child, one in the Mother Supplement section of the mother's main Youth interview and the other in the Child Supplement, made during the actual child interview. Dates and method of report may differ substantially between the mother's main interview and the child supplement:

NLSY79 Child Weight: Type of report, 1988-present
  Ref Num Question Name Variable Title
Year
1 C06068.00  CS881525  HEALTH: HOW WAS WEIGHT REPORTED  1988
2 C08269.00   CS902156  HEALTH: HOW WAS WEIGHT REPORTED  1990
3 C10172.00  CS922664  HEALTH: HOW WAS WEIGHT REPORTED -- SCALE MEASURE OR MOTHER REPORT?  1992
4 C12207.00 CS94H-23B  HEALTH: HOW WAS WEIGHT REPORTED -- SCALE MEASURE OR MOTHER REPORT?  1994
5 C15332.00   CS96H-23B  HEALTH: HOW WAS WEIGHT REPORTED -- SCALE MEASURE OR MOTHER REPORT?  1996
6 C17798.00   CS98H-23B  HEALTH: HOW WAS WEIGHT REPORTED -- SCALE MEASURE OR MOTHER REPORT?  1998
7 C22890.00  HLTH-WGT-REPT  CHILD HEALTH: HOW WAS WEIGHT REPORTED -- SCALE MEASURE OR MOTHER REPORT?  2000
8 C25537.00   HLTH-WGT-REPT  CHILD HEALTH: HOW WAS WEIGHT REPORTED -- SCALE MEASURE OR MOTHER REPORT?  2002
9 C28225.00  HLTH-WGT-REPT  CHILD HEALTH: HOW WAS WEIGHT REPORTED -- SCALE MEASURE OR MOTHER REPORT?  2004
10 C31320.00   MS-HLTH-WGT-REPT  CHILD HEALTH: HOW WAS WEIGHT REPORTED -- SCALE MEASURE OR MOTHER REPORT?  2006
11 C35547.00   HLTH-WGT-REPT  CHILD HEALTH: HOW WAS WEIGHT REPORTED -- SCALE MEASURE OR MOTHER REPORT?  2006
12 C36357.00  MS-HLTH-WGT-REPT  CHILD HEALTH: HOW WAS WEIGHT REPORTED -- SCALE MEASURE OR MOTHER REPORT?  2008
13 C38996.00  HLTH-WGT-REPT  CHILD HEALTH: HOW WAS WEIGHT REPORTED -- SCALE MEASURE OR MOTHER REPORT?  2008
14 C40145.00  MS-HLTH-WGT-REPT  CHILD HEALTH: HOW WAS WEIGHT REPORTED -- SCALE MEASURE OR MOTHER REPORT?  2010
15 C51495.00   HLTH-WGT-REPT  CHILD HEALTH: HOW WAS WEIGHT REPORTED -- SCALE MEASURE OR MOTHER REPORT?  2010
16 C55585.00  MS-HLTH-WGT-REPT  CHILD HEALTH: HOW WAS WEIGHT REPORTED -- SCALE MEASURE OR MOTHER REPORT?  2012
17 C57255.00  HLTH-WGT-REPT  CHILD HEALTH: HOW WAS WEIGHT REPORTED -- SCALE MEASURE OR MOTHER REPORT?  2012
NLSY79 Child Height: Type of report 1988-present
1 C06065.00   CS881519  HEALTH: HOW WAS HEIGHT REPORTED  1988
2 C08266.00   CS902149  HEALTH: HOW WAS HEIGHT REPORTED  1990
3 C10169.00  CS922657  HEALTH: HOW WAS HEIGHT REPORTED -- TAPE MEASURE OR MOTHER REPORT?  1992
4  C12204.00  CS94H-22B  HEALTH: HOW WAS HEIGHT REPORTED -- TAPE MEASURE OR MOTHER REPORT?  1994
5 C15329.00   CS96H-22B  HEALTH: HOW WAS HEIGHT REPORTED -- TAPE MEASURE OR MOTHER REPORT?  1996
6  C17795.00 CS98H-22B   HEALTH: HOW WAS HEIGHT REPORTED -- TAPE MEASURE OR MOTHER REPORT?  1998
7  C22887.00  HLTH-HGT-REPT  CHILD HEALTH: HOW WAS HEIGHT REPORTED -- TAPE MEASURE OR MOTHER REPORT?  2000
8 C25528.00   HLTH-HGT-REPT  CHILD HEALTH: HOW WAS HEIGHT REPORTED -- TAPE MEASURE OR MOTHER REPORT?  2002
9 C28214.00  HLTH-HGT-REPT   CHILD HEALTH: HOW WAS HEIGHT REPORTED -- TAPE MEASURE OR MOTHER REPORT?  2004
10  C31309.00  HLTH-HGT-REPT  CHILD HEALTH: HOW WAS HEIGHT REPORTED -- TAPE MEASURE OR MOTHER REPORT?  2006
11  C35539.00  MS-HLTH-HGT-REPT  CHILD HEALTH: HOW WAS HEIGHT REPORTED -- TAPE MEASURE OR MOTHER REPORT?  2006
12  C36349.00  HLTH-HGT-REPT  CHILD HEALTH: HOW WAS HEIGHT REPORTED -- TAPE MEASURE OR MOTHER REPORT?  2008
13 C38985.00   MS-HLTH-HGT-REPT  CHILD HEALTH: HOW WAS HEIGHT REPORTED -- TAPE MEASURE OR MOTHER REPORT?  2008
14 C40134.00   HLTH-HGT-REPT  CHILD HEALTH: HOW WAS HEIGHT REPORTED -- TAPE MEASURE OR MOTHER REPORT?  2010
15  C51484.00  MS-HLTH-HGT-REPT  CHILD HEALTH: HOW WAS HEIGHT REPORTED -- TAPE MEASURE OR MOTHER REPORT?  2010
16  C55574.00  HLTH-HGT-REPT  CHILD HEALTH: HOW WAS HEIGHT REPORTED -- TAPE MEASURE OR MOTHER REPORT?  2012
17 C57256.00   MS-HLTH-HGT-REPT  CHILD HEALTH: HOW WAS HEIGHT REPORTED -- TAPE MEASURE OR MOTHER REPORT?  2012

 

Immunization

In the fertility section of the 1986-1990 NLSY79 main Youth questionnaire, mothers were asked to report on the types of shots administered to each child.  Users should note that only the subset of immunization questions (DPT/oral polio and measles) most comparable across these survey years is included in the Child file. The questions used to construct the immunization variables were not asked after 1990 and therefore children born since that time have been assigned a missing value on these variables. The NLSY79 child series on shots is from the Immunizations section of the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).

Menarche

Starting with the first child survey year, mothers are asked about whether each daughter has started menstruation, and the date and age of the first menses.  From 1986 to 2000, these questions are assigned to the year-specific CHILD SUPPLEMENT area of interest. From 2002 to present these questions are assigned to the year-specific MOTHER SUPPLEMENT area of interest.

Mental health

At each survey point the mother is asked whether in the past 12 months her child has been referred for professional assistance with a behavioral, emotional, or mental problem or made any visits to a psychiatrist, psychologist, or counselor.  She is also asked about use of medication to control the child's activity level or behavior. Comparable questions continue to be asked of the young adults, allowing researchers the opportunity to continue examining health issues into adulthood.

Child behavior problems. Mothers report on behavior problems for each child age four and over. Summary scores for the Behavior Problems Index, developed by Peterson and Zill, are based on items were derived from the Achenbach Behavior Problems Checklist (Achenbach and Edelbrock 1981) and other child behavior scales (Graham and Rutter 1968; Kellam et al., 1975; Rutter, Tizard and Whitmore 1970). The Behavior Problems total score is based on responses from the mothers to 28 questions in the Mother Supplement (items 1-26, 31, and 32 in the Behavior Problems scale). These mother-report questions ask about specific behaviors that children age four and over may have exhibited in the previous three months, including anxiety, depression,antisocial behavior, headstrong behavior, hyperactivity, dependency, and peer conflict.  Details on the items and their scales, as well as a full list of summary scores, can be found in the discussion of the Behavior Problems Index, in the Child Assessments section of the users guide.

Child depression: child-report. Starting with the 1992 NLSY79 Child survey, the following depression or child "moods" items have been self-administered by children age 10-14:

  CHILD SELF-ADMIN: DEPRESSION - HOW OFTEN CHILD FEELS SAD AND BLUE
  CHILD SELF-ADMIN: DEPRESSION - HOW OFTEN CHILD FEELS NERVOUS, TENSE, OR ON EDGE
  CHILD SELF-ADMIN: DEPRESSION - HOW OFTEN CHILD FEELS HAPPY
  CHILD SELF-ADMIN: DEPRESSION - HOW OFTEN CHILD FEELS BORED
  CHILD SELF-ADMIN: DEPRESSION - HOW OFTEN CHILD FEELS LONELY
  CHILD SELF-ADMIN: DEPRESSION - HOW OFTEN CHILD FEELS TIRED OR WORN OUT
  CHILD SELF-ADMIN: DEPRESSION - HOW OFTEN CHILD FEELS EXCITED ABOUT SOMETHING
  CHILD SELF-ADMIN: DEPRESSION - HOW OFTEN CHILD FEELS TOO BUSY TO GET EVERYTHING DONE
  CHILD SELF-ADMIN: DEPRESSION - HOW OFTEN CHILD FEELS PRESSURED BY MOTHER OR FATHER

The 9-item scale came from the National Commission on Children (NCC) Survey of Parents and Children. The specific source for these questions can be found in the 1990 NCC Parent and Child Final Questionnaire and Codebook for Children, questions V432 to V440. The moods items were in the Child Self-Administered Supplement (CSAS) stand-alone instrument through 2002 and are now part of the self-administered section of the Child Supplement.

Child depression: mother-report. The Behavior Problems Scale, completed by mothers for children ages 4 and older, contains items that can be used to create an Anxious/Depressed subscale. These items, administered in the Mother Supplement, are listed below:

      Question Name
BPI Item Description Subscale Scale 1986-1998 2000 2000-2004 2006-present
Has sudden changes in mood or feeling Anxious/Depressed Externalizing * MS2-01 BPI-01 MS-BPI-01
Feels/complains no one loves him/her Anxious/Depressed Internalizing * MS2-02 BPI-02 MS-BPI-02
Is too fearful or anxious Anxious/Depressed

Externalizing/Internalizing

* MS2-05 BPI-05 MS-BPI-05
Feels worthless or inferior Anxious/Depressed Internalizing * MS2-14 BPI-14 MS-BPI-14
Is unhappy, sad or depressed Anxious/Depressed Externalizing/Internalizing * MS2-20 BPI-20 MS-BPI-20
NOTE: Prior to 2000, question names were based on questionnaire location. For a detailed discussion of the BPI items, including tips on locating the items in the early survey rounds, see the Behavior Problems Index section of the user's guide.

Prenatal and infant care

Maternal prenatal care information and health-related characteristics are provided on the NLSY79 Child and Young Adult file. Various pieces of information derived from mother reports in the fertility section of the main NLSY79 youth questionnaire are linked to each individual biological child. The following information is available for most children in the file:  prenatal doctor visits, maternal alcohol/cigarette/drug use during pregnancy, other prenatal behaviors (vitamin intake, salt intake, etc.); amniocentesis, ultrasound performed; was child born early or late; cesarean birth; mother's weight gain during pregnancy; child's birth length and birth weight; length of hospital stay; well baby/sick baby health care in first year; breastfeeding history; other infant feeding practices.  The child pre- and postnatal data are assigned to the PRE/POST NATAL area of interest in the data files.

Users who attempt in-depth analyses based on the pregnancy and postnatal information should review the Fertility Section of the main Youth questionnaire to ascertain when certain questions were asked about specific children of specific ages. For example, while birth weight was reported in 1983 for all children born as of that date, certain feeding questions were applicable only to a subset of children. Feeding questions about solid foods, which may have been inappropriate for an infant in 1983, were updated in 1984 or 1985, depending on the developmental stage of the child at each interview date.  Also, unlike the series of child illness questions asked of the mother starting in the 1984, the 1983 interview schedule refers to illnesses experienced by the youngest child in the first year only if the child had been hospitalized (see Section 10, Q. 40A and B, pages 10-105 of the 1983 NLSY main youth questionnaire). Users interested in maternal and child health information related to pregnancy and birth in the NLSY79 should consult the report titled Maternal Child Health Data from the NLSY (PDF), by Mott and Quinlan (1991), available on the Research/Technical Reports page.

Smoking/Exposure to smoking

Questions on smoking have been asked in each Child survey round, starting with the 1988 survey. Children 10 years of age and older have been asked about age at first use and extent of cigarette use. Variables related to smoking for NLSY79 children can be found in the CHILD SELF-ADMINISTERED area of interest of the data files. See the Cigarette & Drug Use section of the topical guide for more details about child smoking items.

A more extensive set of questions is asked of NLSY79 children once they became NLSY79 young adults. Additionally, the NLSY79 main Youth (mothers of NLSY79 children) include detailed questions on the quantity and frequency of cigarette use.

NLSY79 mothers have been asked, in several survey years, about their own smoking habits as well as those of other household members. This information, in light of the fact that interviewed children are largely resident in their mothers' households, offer opportunities to link the child data with maternal and household smoking information. Cigarette use data for NLSY79 respondents are available as follows:

  • Data were collected, during the 1984 main Youth survey on
    • age at first use
    • most recent use
    • number of cigarettes smoked in the past 30 days. 
  • The 1992, 1994, 1998, 2010 and 2012 NLSY79 main Youth surveys gathered information from those respondents on:
    • whether they had smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their life
    • the age that they started smoking daily
    • the number of months/years since they had last smoked daily 
  • The 1983-1986, 1988, 1990, 1992, and 1994-2012 surveys gathered, for female NLSY79 respondents, information on whether they had smoked in the twelve months before pregnancy and, if so, on the number of cigarettes smoked during pregnancy (2000-present).

For a detailed description of these items, consult the NLSY79 main Youth users guide topical section on Cigarette Use.

An additional source of information about secondhand smoke can be found in the Young Adult surveys. Starting in 2004, the Young Adult survey contains two items that asks about exposure to secondhand smoke, including (1) a question about anyone smoking in the home in the previous two weeks and (2) whether the YA respondent had spent time routinely in a place that smelled of cigarette smoke:

Question Name Title Area of Interest
Q14A-4 HAS ANYONE SMOKED CIGARETTES OR TOBACCO PRODUCTS IN HOME IN PAST 2 WEEKS? YA HEALTH
Q14A-5 HAS R ROUTINELY SPENT TIME IN PLACE WHERE SMELLED CIGARETTE SMOKE IN PAST TWO WEEKS? YA HEALTH

Used in combination with RESTYPE (for linkage to the mother's household), the first item about tobacco in the home can be connected to the child data, for interviewed YAs living in the mother's household (RESTYPEyy=19 or 20), to obtain additional information about smoking in the child's household. The constructed RESTYPE variables are assigned to the YA COMMON KEY VARIABLES area of interest:

  RESTYPEyy TYPE OF RESIDENCE R LIVES IN -- CONSTRUCTED 1994-1998
  RESTYPEyyyy TYPE OF RESIDENCE R LIVES IN -- CONSTRUCTED 2000-present

Substance use

Since 1988, the child survey has included questions for children ages 10 to 14 about consumption of alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana, and other drugs. See the Alcohol Use and Cigarette & Drug Use sections of the Topical Guide for more details about these questions. Substance use questions can be found in the CHILD-SELF ADMINISTERED and year-specific CHILD SUPPLEMENT areas of interest.

Survey Instruments Health-related questions are found in Mother Supplement. Prenatal and infant care items are found in the Fertility section of the main Youth questionnaire.  Asthma questions asked of the child are included in the Child Supplement. Substance use questions are asked in the Child Self-Administered Supplement. BPI, MSD, and Temperament items are asked in the Mother Supplement.
Areas of Interest

ASSESSMENT (BPI, MSD, Temperament scores)
CHILD HEALTH
MOTHER SUPPLEMENT
CHILD SUPPLEMENT
PRE/POST NATAL CARE
CHILD SELF-ADMINISTERED SUPPLEMENT