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National Children's Study

A young boy and girl, both wearing school backpacks

The National Children's Study will allow researchers to follow 100,000 children from before birth until age 21 to determine if genetic and environmental factors such as exposure to natural and manufactured products, noise and stress levels, air, water, and soil affect children during different phases of their lives. The results of the investigation may lead to improvements in children's health and development. It is the largest and most ambitious long-term study of children's health ever performed in the United States.

Why is the National Children's Study Important?

Many adult diseases begin in childhood, so understanding how environmental exposures interact with a child's genetic background will constitute a giant leap in the improvement of human health. The National Children's Study will promote the well-being of generations of Americans by being the most comprehensive children's health research to date. It will be the first study to:

  • include the largest representative sample of children from different socioeconomic, ethnic and racial backgrounds
  • monitor mothers during pregnancy to determine which factors may affect the health of a child before birth
  • examine how a wide range of environmental exposures impact children's health
  • consider whether the environment may have a different impact on children than adults

 How to Participate in the National Children's Study

Pregnant women or women between the ages of 18 and 49 who may become pregnant may enroll through one of the study centers located nationwide. Thirty-seven study centers are currently available, with 105 locations eventually accepting participants. Once a volunteer gives birth, the child will be enrolled in the study. Women may be asked to answer questionnaires and participate in health visits with a study representative before and during pregnancy, and as her child grows up. To find a study location near you, see the National Children's Study  web page.

National Children's Study: A Collaborative Partnership

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)  is NIH's lead institute for the National Children's Study, while the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency  serve as collaborative study partners.

Representatives from each of these federal agencies make up the Interagency Coordinating Committee (ICC), a supervisory panel that ensures that the mission and goals of the National Children's Study are maintained. Sheila Newton, Ph.D., director of the NIEHS Office of Policy, Planning, and Evaluation (OPPE) , has accepted the yearlong chairmanship for the ICC beginning September 2010. NIEHS Director of Office of Scientific Information Management (OSIM) Allen Dearry, Ph.D., serves on the National Children's Study Advisory Committee, a group comprised of external advisors.

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