Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine has been awarded $26 million in funding to participate in The National Children's Study, the National Institutes of Health's comprehensive study on the interaction of genes and the environment on children's health.
At a briefing today, NIH officials named Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine as one of 36 new and existing study centers which would recruit study volunteers from a total of 72 locations. When it is fully operational, 1,000 children will be recruited from 105 counties across the United States. (Each funded study center will recruit children from two to three different counties.)
"The award to Case Western Reserve University will bring a number of benefits to our local communities," said Cynthia Bearer, M.D., Ph.D., adjunct professor of pediatrics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and principal investigator for the study center. "First, a lot of attention will be paid to the influences that affect our children's health; second, the study will provide more jobs to the area; and third, as a result of this study, other researches may propose other investigations that could bring additional resources to the community."
The National Children's Study will follow a representative national sample of 100,000 children from before birth to age 21. Study volunteers will be recruited throughout the United States, from rural, urban, and suburban areas, from all income and educational levels, and from all racial groups. The study will investigate factors influencing the development of such conditions as autism, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, birth defects, diabetes, asthma, and obesity.
Authorized by Congress in the Children's Health Act of 2000, The National Children's Study is being conducted by a consortium of federal agencies. This includes two NIH institutes, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine will recruit participants from two study sites—one in Cuyahoga County and one in Lorain County (exact location sites are TBD), collecting genetic, biological, and environmental samples, and compiling statistical information for study analyses investigating how genetic and environmental factors influence health and disease.
"Having two study locations operating side by side brings economies of scale to the study," said Bearer. "Rather than have one person work part-time for one location, that same person can work full-time for both study locations. In addition, twice the number of children will be enrolled and studied for a local perspective of what's important to make them healthy."
At the briefing today, NIH officials stated that the study would yield health information throughout its 25 year span. Within just a few years, the study would provide information on disorders of pregnancy and birth. Since women would be recruited before they give birth, and in some instances even before they become pregnant, the study would provide insight into the causes and contributors of preterm birth.
More than 500,000 premature infants are born each year in the United States. Infants born prematurely are at risk for early death and a variety of health problems, such as cerebral palsy, mental retardation, and learning disabilities. Health care costs for preterm infants total $26 billion per year.
Additional information about the National Children's Study is available from http://www.nationalchildrensstudy.gov.
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