National Children’s Study: Helping Your Child

What we learn from the study will improve the health and well-being of children in Salt Lake county and across the country … and Salt Lake children and families can benefit in two ways. Pam Silberman, Community Relations Director for the National Children’s Study and Annette Webb, Household Interviewer for The National Children’s Study.

More than 100,000 children across the US will participate in the National Children’s Study. Researchers follow children from before birth until they reach 21 years. They will study their families, neighborhoods and schools and learn about each child’s health as he or she grows. Scientists will examine chemicals in food, water, dust and soil. They then will use this information to understand the causes of many of today’s childhood diseases.

Who is performing the National Children’s Study in Salt Lake county?

Salt Lake County is one of the first seven counties in the United States to begin the Study. The Department of Pediatrics at the U of U is leading the study in Salt Lake county. They are working with Primary Children’s Medical Center, city governments throughout Salt Lake County and community-based organizations.

The National Children’s Study in Salt Lake County is one of many of local studies being conducted by universities, hospitals, local government agencies and community-based organizations across the US. The National Institute for Child Health and Development is coordinating the Study from Washington, D.C. to combine all of the information from each community.

Why focus the research on children?

Children are different from adults. Their young bodies make them more vulnerable than adults to environmental exposures. It is important for us to understand which of these exposures are harmful, harmless or helpful to children’s health and development.

When will the Study start? How do people get involved?

Study staff members will be visiting neighborhoods throughout Salt Lake County beginning in Spring 2009. More than 7,000 households have been selected to represent Salt Lake county. They want to enroll children from before birth so they will invite women between 18 and 49 to participate. They hope to have the particpation of women and families that represent the whole community, including all racial, ethnic, religious, income and educational groups. They will follow a total of 1,250 children from Salt Lake county during this landmark study on childhood health, growth and development.

What will we learn from the study and when?

Results about the causes of conditions such as birth defects will be available within two to three years after the study begins. They will release additional results throughout the study.

The National Children’s Study will identify exposures in early life that affect people during childhood and throughout the rest of their lives. Health professionals and others who work with children will use the results to develop new ways to prevent health problems and possibly new treatments for diseases.

How will the Study help us?

The National Children’s Study will be the richest information resource for questions about child health ever. It will guide us in preventing and treating childhood asthma, cancers, neuro-developmental disorders, like autism, obesity, diabetes and birth defects. The study will not provide health care or directly affect the health of the children who participate. However, in the future it will save the lives and improve the health of millions of American children.

How does it work?

Each household in a Study neighborhood will receive a letter from the National Children’s Study, which will be followed by a visit from a Household Interviewer. The Household Interviewer would like to speak to an adult in the household to find out who lives in the home and whether there are any women living there between the ages of 18 and 49. Even if there is no one in the home who is eligible to participate in the Study, we would like whoever answers the door to spend a few minutes speaking to our staff member so that we can verify the eligibility of all members of the household.

How you become part of the Interview?

If there is a woman between the ages of 18 and 49 living in the home, our staff would like to speak with her directly (either at that time or at a follow-up appointment) and ask her a few additional questions to determine whether she is eligible to participate in the Study. If she is currently pregnant or likely to become pregnant in the next few years, she is eligible and can enroll in the Study.

Once you’re accepted … what is the protocol:

Once a woman enrolls in the Study, she will participate in interviews and Study clinic visits approximately once-a-trimester during pregnancy and every 6 months until the child is 2 years old. After that, the visits are once a year or every other year until the child turns 21. All information gathered is completely confidential and is not associated with the participant’s name. Results are only released on a county or national level and so no individual information would ever be made public.

The Study hopes that people will open their doors and talk to our Household Interviewers when we visit their homes. Even if they have no children, or are not planning to have additional children, we need a few minutes of their time just to understand the composition of the household and the communities in which Study participants are living in. In this way everyone can contribute to the National Children’s Study and the long-term health and well-being of children, even if they don’t enroll in the Study.

Contact the following if you have questions about the study.

Dr. Edward B. Clark, Principal Investigator

Sean Firth, PhD., MPH, Project Director

Pamela Silberman, MA, Community Relations Director

1 (801) 587-7373

Or go to the national Children’s Study Salt Lake
County Webpage

U of U Department of Pediatrics Website

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