NFBC 1966

The Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 (NFBC 1966; is one of the oldest prospective birth cohorts in the world. The study was started by Professor Paula Rantakallio in the two Northernmost provinces in Finland (Oulu and Lapland). It aims to explore health and well-being of the population. The study population (N=12, 231) comprised 96.3 per cent of all birth during 1966 in that area. The prospective data collected from the Northern Finland is a unique resource, allowing study of the emergence of diseases, which can be based on genetic, biological, social or behavioral risk factors. Large genetic data is available (N=5401).

Key findings

Schizophrenia has been studied actively during past 20 years in NFBC 1966. Several risk factors have been identified such as e.g. delayed of learning to walk and to stand unsupported, parental age and central nervous system infections. Other findings related to schizophrenia were on course of illness and outcomes, brain morphometry, cognition, somatic illnesses, mortality and criminality, antipsychotic medication, schizotypal traits and genetic. For instance, it was found that mortality in schizophrenia is high, especially due to suicides. Furthermore, lifetime use of antipsychotics were associated with alterations in brain morphometry and neurocognition. Other studies in NFCB 1966 include findings on depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, substance use and criminal behavior.

Management and funding

The cohort is administrated by the Northern Finland Birth Cohorts’ Project Center at the Medical Faculty, University of Oulu. NFBC1966 has received financial support e.g. from University of Oulu, Oulu University Hospital, Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Regional Institute of Occupational Health, Oulu, and ERDF European Regional Development Fund.

Accessing the data

Access to the data is available with a request via the cohort webpage (

Cohort profile and selected publications

Rantakallio P (1988). The longitudinal study of the northern Finland birth cohort of 1966. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol 2(1): 59–88.

Jääskeläinen E, Haapea M, Rautio N, Juola J, Penttilä M, Nordström T, Rissanen I, Husa A, Keskinen E, Marttila R, Filatova S, Paaso T-M, Koivukangas J, Moilanen K, Isohanni I, Miettunen J. Twenty years of schizophrenia research in the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 – a systematic review. Schizophr Res Treatm 2015; 524875.

Nyman, E., Miettunen, J., Freimer, N., Joukamaa, M., Mäki, P., Ekelund, J., … & Paunio, T. (2011). Impact of temperament on depression and anxiety symptoms and depressive disorder in a population-based birth cohort. Journal of affective disorders, 131(1), 393-397.

Jacobsen, K. K., Nievergelt, C. M., Zayats, T., Greenwood, T. A., Anttila, V., Akiskal, H. S., … & Schork, N. J. (2015). Genome wide association study identifies variants in NBEA associated with migraine in bipolar disorder. Journal of affective disorders, 172, 453-461.

Räsänen, P., Hakko, H., Isohanni, M., Hodgins, S., Järvelin, M. R., & Tiihonen, J. (1999). Maternal smoking during pregnancy and risk of criminal behavior among adult male offspring in the Northern Finland 1966 Birth Cohort. American Journal of Psychiatry, 156(6), 857-862.

Tiihonen, J., Isohanni, M., Rasanen, P., Koiranen, M., & Moring, J. (1997). Specific major mental disorders and criminality: a 26-year prospective study of the 1966 northern Finland birth cohort. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 154(6), 840.

Jones, P. B., Rantakallio, P., Hartikainen, A. L., Isohanni, M., & Sipila, P. (1998). Schizophrenia as a long-term outcome of pregnancy, delivery, and perinatal complications: a 28-year follow-up of the 1966 North Finland general population birth cohort. American Journal of Psychiatry, 155(3), 355-364.

Mäki, P., Riekki, T., Miettunen, J., Isohanni, M., Jones, P. B., Murray, G. K., & Veijola, J. (2009). Schizophrenia in the offspring of antenatally depressed mothers in the northern Finland 1966 birth cohort: relationship to family history of psychosis. American Journal of Psychiatry, 167(1), 70-77.