Anonymous non-response analysis in the ABCD cohort study enabled by probabilistic record linkage


Miranda Tromp, MSc, PO Box 22700, 1100 DE Amsterdam, the Netherlands.


Selective non-response is an important threat to study validity as it can lead to selection bias. The Amsterdam Born Children and their Development study (ABCD-study) is a large cohort study addressing the relationship between life style, psychological conditions, nutrition and sociodemographic background of pregnant women and their children's health. Possible selective non-response and selection bias in the ABCD-study were analysed using national perinatal registry data. ABCD-study data were linked with national perinatal registry data by probabilistic medical record linkage techniques. Differences in the prevalence of relevant risk factors (sociodemographic and care-related factors) and birth outcomes between respondents and non-respondents were tested using Pearson chi-squared tests. Selection bias (i.e. bias in the association between risk factors and specific outcomes) was analysed by regression analysis with and without adjustment for participation status.

The ABCD non-respondents were significantly younger, more often non-western, and more often multiparae. Non-respondents entered antenatal care later, were more often under supervision of an obstetrician and had a spontaneous delivery more often. Non-response however, was not significantly associated with preterm birth (odds ratio 1.10; 95% CI 0.93, 1.29) or low birthweight (odds ratio 1.16; 95% CI 0.98, 1.37) after adjustment for sociodemographic risk factors. The associations found between risk factors and adverse pregnancy outcomes were similar for respondents and non-respondents. Anonymised record linkage of cohort study data with national registry data indicated that selective non-response was present in the ABCD-study, but selection bias was acceptably low and did not influence the main study questions.