Increased Funding a Step Forward for National Children's Study
> 10/8/2007 11:50:59 AM

Researchers have always questioned the role played by environmental and genetic factors in mental and physical health. With last week's announcement of increased government funding for the momentous National Children's Study, we may finally be closer to an answer. Funded by the U. S. National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Children's Study will follow 100,000 American children from before birth until the age of 21 in an effort to better understand the various factors that affect children's health.

The National Children's Study would be the largest study of American children ever conducted and the first study to include data from before birth up until 21 years after birth. Researchers will examine many different factors in children's health, including family genetics, home and community environments, chemical exposure, and food and water supplies. The study aims to better understand how genetics and environment affect the physical and mental health of children and will focus on conditions including autism, asthma, sudden infant death syndrome, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, schizophrenia, learning disorders, and pregnancy-related problems like birth defects and premature birth. To ensure that their results can be applied to the general public, the researchers behind the National Children's Study have sought a diverse participant pool. The study's centers will be located across the country and include demographic and geographic diversity. Children from urban and rural areas will be included, as will children of all different racial and ethnic backgrounds. In Georgia alone, study participants will speak 52 languages.

Despite its significance, the National Children's Study has been in the planning stages since 2000 due to a lack of funding. Now, with $69 million in newly-acquired federal funding, the study has been able to add 22 study centers in 20 different states to its 7 original vanguard centers, which were established in 2005. By next year, these centers should able to begin recruiting participants from three distinct groups: pregnant couples, couples planning pregnancy, and adult women not planning pregnancy. The researchers plan to recruit about 1,000 people per center and ultimately hope to have study centers in 105 locations across the country. The total cost of the study is estimated to be $3.5 billion. Only continued government funding will allow the study to reach completion, but proponents of the study explain that the results will lead to reduced health care costs and increased productivity, making its benefits much greater than its cost.

As the National Children's Study advances into its beginning stages, we can anticipate the answers which the next two decades will bring. We may soon have a better understanding of how many mental and physical health problems develop, how we can best treat them, and how we can prevent them. Thankfully, results will be released while the study is still in progress, allowing researchers quick access to new information. With the National Children's Study getting underway, the future of children's health looks brighter.

No comments yet.

Post Your Comments

Post a comment
Email Address:
Verification Code:
Input the 8 characters you see above:


Drug Abuse
Sexual Addiction
Eating Disorders
Alzheimer's Disease

About TOL | Contact Us | Defining Behavioral Fitness | For Healthcare Professionals | Links | Privacy Policy