Emory University today was awarded $25.5 million to participate in a landmark national study of children's health.
Emory is one of only 22 new U.S. study centers, and the only institution in Georgia, selected to take part in this phase of the National Children's Study (NCS). The multi-year study examines the effects of environmental and genetic factors on child and human health in the U.S.
"The National Children's Study represents a unique opportunity to improve the health of our children," says study principal investigator Barbara J. Stoll, MD, George W. Brumley, Jr., professor and chair, Department of Pediatrics, Emory School of Medicine.
"What we learn will help not only children and families in Georgia, but also children across the United States," adds Dr. Stoll, who leads the Emory Children's Center and is medical director of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston. "It will shape child health guidance, interventions and policies for generations to come."
Emory School of Medicine and Emory's Rollins School of Public Health will partner with the Morehouse School of Medicine and Battelle Memorial Institute, a private, not-for-profit applied science and technology development company, to manage local participant recruitment and data collection in the largest study of child and human development ever conducted in the U.S.
"The National Children's Study will bring greater understanding of the integral effects of environmental factors on the health and well-being of children from diverse backgrounds," says Frances J. Dunston, MD, MPH, chair of the Morehouse School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics. "This major undertaking will more clearly define what we must do to assure that our children develop and thrive into healthy adulthood."
The National Children's Study is a collaborative effort between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, including the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The 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.
In total, the National Children's study will be conducted in 105 study locations across the U.S., including Georgia's DeKalb and Fulton counties, which together are representative of the entire U.S. population. A national probability sample was used to select the counties in the study, which took into account factors such as race and ethnicity, income, education level, number of births and number of babies born with low birth weights.
"Through participating in the National Children's Study, Emory and Morehouse will provide a powerful partnership to help identify the causes of many infant and child health problems, and to develop preventive measures, treatments and cures for Georgia's wonderfully diverse population of babies and children," says NCS Emory site leader Carol Hogue, PhD, MPH, director of the Rollins School of Public Health's Women's and Children's Center and professor of epidemiology.
"Findings from this project will influence how we prevent disease and care for children in the future," says NCS Emory site leader William T. Mahle, MD, associate professor of pediatrics, Emory University School of Medicine. "We are proud to contribute to the National Children's Study and are delighted to have the residents of DeKalb and Fayette Counties included in the first phase of this endeavor."
Emory is a national leader in child health research. The Emory Children's Center, a joint venture of Emory and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, is Georgia's largest pediatric multi-specialty practice.
The Emory Children's Center pediatric service specialties include: pediatric anesthesia, apnea/sleep disorders, allergy/immunology, cardiology and pediatric cardiothoracic surgery, critical care medicine, emergency medicine, endocrinology/diabetes, gastroenterology/hepatology, general pediatrics, genetics, hematology/oncology, infectious diseases, neonatology, nephrology, neurology, pediatric pathology, pulmonology/cystic fibrosis, pediatric radiology, pediatric surgery and rheumatology.
The National Children's Study began in response to the Children's Health Act of 2000 when 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.
Today's announcement of new study centers follows earlier study milestones, including the 2004 announcement of the 105 study locations and the establishment of the Vanguard centers.