The research will track the holistic development of children from the age of nine months to five years old across England.
It will examine the many factors that affect a child’s development and education, from their home environment and community to early years services and the social and economic circumstances of their family.
Kate, who established her Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood in June this year after 10 years of working to highlight the importance of a child’s formative years, said she was “committed to supporting” the study.
Prior to her arrival at UCL, the duchess said: “Our early childhoods shape our adult lives and knowing more about what impacts this critical time is fundamental to understanding what we as a society can do to improve our future health and happiness.
“The landmark Children of the 2020s study will illustrate the importance of the first five years and provide insights into the most critical aspects of early childhood, as well as the factors which support or hinder positive lifelong outcomes.
“I am committed to supporting greater in-depth research in this vital area and I’m delighted to be meeting all those behind the study at this early stage.”
The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood focuses on three key areas, including research, developing new solutions with public and private voluntary sectors, and awareness campaigns.
Kate arrived at UCL in a grey houndstooth dress from Zara that she had previously worn during an event in January and stilettos by Hugo Boss.
The duchess viewed archive material of historic research dating back to the 1940s on early childhood during her visit. The material includes a birth questionnaire that new mothers received in 1958 that asked pregnant women about their smoking habits.
The question was not a standard one at the time, but the responses allowed researchers to keep track of the impact that smoking during pregnancy had on a baby’s birth weight and how it continued to affect different aspects of a child’s life into adulthood.
Professor Pasco Fearon, lead researcher of the study, said: “We are extremely excited to welcome HRH The Duchess of Cambridge to UCL to talk and hear more about our Children of the 2020s study today and as it develops over the coming years.
“The study will collect vital information on how children develop during the crucial early years of life. We will be studying their family circumstances and experiences as they grow up, as well as the role of formal and informal childcare and preschool education in their learning and development.
“We share with Her Royal Highness a commitment to improving children’s development and life chances through high quality research and good early years policy and we believe the Children of the 2020s study will play a really important part of that for this next generation of children.”
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