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National Childrens Study Begins Recruiting

Effort will track development of 100,000 kids from birth to age 21

FRIDAY, Jan. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Recruiting has started for a large-scale federal study that aims to track tens of thousands of children from before birth to age 21. The study is aimed at understanding of how genes and environment interact to affect health.

The National Children's Study, authorized by Congress in 2000, is expected to uncover important health information at virtually every phase of a child's life. Volunteer participants are being sought first in Duplin County, N.C., and Queens, N.Y. Recruitment will eventually expand to include 105 U.S. locations, providing a broad, representative sample of the nation's population.

"Initially, it will provide major insights into disorders of birth and infancy, such as preterm birth and its health consequences. Ultimately, it will lead to a greater understanding of adult disorders, many of which are thought to be heavily influenced by early life exposures and events," Dr. Duane Alexander, director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, said in a news release issued by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

A consortium of federal agencies is working on the study, which hopes to track more than 100,000 children over the years.

Unlike smaller and more limited studies, Alexander said, the scope of the National Children's Study should allow researchers to gain insight into many uncommon disorders and to examine the interaction of genetics and the environment, as well.

Centers in communities where volunteers are being recruited will hold presentations and other activities to better inform prospective participants. Prenatal care providers and clinics in those areas will also inform women about the study, and some families will receive letters explaining the study.

Among the first to be enrolled in the study will be pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant, and the researchers hope to have the first batches of information on disorders and conditions of early life in a few years. This, they hope, will eventually point to a broad array of early life factors that affect later development.

More information

For more on raising healthy children, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: National Institutes of Health, news release, Jan. 13, 2009

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