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Proposed children's study needs refinement, report finds
Date:6/18/2014

PRINCETON, N.J.A study that would track the health of 100,000 babies to age 21 has been put on hold following the release of an assessment report issued June 16 by the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine (IOM).

While the congressionally mandated report endorses several aspects of the proposed study design of the National Children's Study (NCS), the authors including Sara McLanahan, the William S. Tod Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of International and Public Affairs are critical of the sampling design and study content.

Authorized by the Children's Health Act of 2000, NCS originated after a request by Congress to examine how environmental factors, like social settings and pollution, influence the long-term health of children. The study, managed by an office at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), will recruit 100,000 women and their unborn babies and follow them through age 21. In March 2013, Congress requested that IOM write an assessment of the study design.

While the authors support many aspects of the proposed design, they particularly do not endorse the study's plan to recruit half of the children at birth. Doing so would skew the data obtained, the authors say, due to the scientific importance of prenatal exposures on child development. Instead, the authors recommend recruiting all 95,000 mothers during pregnancy, which can be done for the same cost if 10,000 "convenience samples" are dropped.

"Collecting data on mothers-to-be during the prenatal phase is important and could provide information of paramount importance related to the health, growth and development of U.S. children," said McLanahan, who also directs the Bendheim-Thoman Center for Research on Child Wellbeing. "If carried out successfully, the survey has the potential to be the most comprehensive study of child health and
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Contact: B. Rose Huber
brhuber@princeton.edu
609-258-0157
Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs
Source:Eurekalert

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