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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University October 8, 2007 | Vol. 37 No. 6
Bloomberg School to Lead Local Study Center in Landmark Government Study of Child Health

By Kenna Lowe
School of Public Health

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has been selected as a study center in the National Children's Study to assess the effects of environmental and genetic factors on child and human health in the United States. The study center will manage local participant recruitment and data collection in the largest study of child and human health ever conducted in the United States.

The Bloomberg School is one of 22 new study centers of the National Children's Study, a collaborative effort between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. HHS participants include the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, both members of the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Baltimore County is the designated local study area.

"What we learn will help promote the well-being of children and families in Baltimore County, Maryland, and across the United States and [will] shape child health guidance, interventions and policy for generations to come," said Lynn Goldman, principal investigator of the new center and a professor in the Bloomberg School's Department of Environmental Health Sciences. "Only a study of the magnitude of the National Children's Study can provide answers to some of the most important questions about how we help children meet their full potential for health and development."

The National Children's Study eventually 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.

Working with the local health department, neighborhood and community organizations, hospitals and parents groups, the center at Johns Hopkins will recruit and enroll 1,000 women from neighborhoods in Baltimore County to participate in this long-term effort to examine a host of health outcomes, including pregnancy, neurodevelopment and behavior, child health and development, asthma and growth, injury, and reproductive development. The study also will look at childhood chronic conditions as they are influenced by environmental factors, such as chemical exposures and physical and psychosocial environments as well as by biological and genetic factors.

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

The National Children's Study began in response to the Children's Health Act of 2000, in which 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. Last week's announcement of new study centers follows earlier study milestones, including the 2004 announcement of the 105 locations and the establishment in 2005 of the first seven centers.


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