Environmental Protection

NIH Further Funds National Children's Health Study

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has announced a grant of approximately $40 million over five years to the Pacific Northwest Center for the National Children's Study at the University of Washington to partner with Washington State University, Oregon Health & Science University, and local communities in Washington's Grant County and Oregon's Marion County, according to an Oct. 6 press release.

The study center will recruit participants and collect data in the largest study of child health ever conducted in the United States.

Part of a comprehensive study on the interaction of genes and the environment on children's health, this national collaborative effort includes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, including the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) at NIH, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When it is fully operational, the study is expected to include from 36 to 50 study centers in the planned 105 study locations throughout the United States.

The Pacific Northwest Center for the National Children's Study was initiated in 2007 to enroll participants in King County, Wash. As part of the King County study location, the UW has partnered with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Public Health -- Seattle & King County on a number of activities to help engage the local community, such as working together to reach women of childbearing age in King County. With NIH funding, the center can partner with Oregon Health & Science University and Marion County communities, and Washington State University, Grant County Health District, Quincy Community Health Center and Grant County communities in two additional study locations in the Pacific Northwest.

"This is a fantastic opportunity to partner with communities in order to help children and families across Washington, Oregon, and throughout the U.S. to shape child health guidance, interventions, and policy for generations to come," said Elaine Faustman, director of the study center and professor in the UW Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences. The lead investigator for the Marion County location is Dr. Gail Houck. Dr. Patricia Butterfield is the lead investigator for the Grant County location.

The National Children's Study will follow a representative sample of 100,000 children from before birth to age 21, seeking information to prevent and treat some of the nation's most pressing health problems, including autism, birth defects, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. In the Pacific Northwest, plans are under way to recruit over 4,000 participants at four study locations. 

In total, the study will be conducted in 105 previously designated study locations across the United States that together are representative of the entire U.S. population. A national probability sample was used to select the counties in the study, which took into account factors including race and ethnicity, income, education level, number of births, and number of babies born with low birth weights.

The study began in response to the Children's Health Act of 2000, when Congress directed the NICHD and other federal agencies to undertake a national, long-term study of children's health and development in relation to environmental exposures.

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