The National Children’s Study announced today that it awarded contracts in late September to 22 new study centers (PDF 25 KB) to manage participant recruitment and data collection in 26 additional communities across the United States, bringing the study a step closer to full operation.
“Today’s announcement represents a milestone for the National Children’s Study,” said Duane Alexander, M.D., Director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. “The addition of new study centers will move the study closer to its goal of recruiting more than 100,000 children representative of the entire population of American children,” he said.
By following 100,000 children from before birth to age 21, National Children’s Study researchers seek to better understand how environmental influences and genetic constitution interact to affect child and adult health. The study has the potential to pinpoint the causes of health conditions like autism, asthma, pregnancy-related problems, obesity, mental health disorders, and others.
The newly awarded study centers will manage the study in 20 states. The study centers are in both urban and rural areas. Fifteen locations are in the Eastern part of the country, and 11 are in the West. A complete list of centers and locations can be found on the National Children’s Study Web site (PDF 67 KB).
The study will eventually be conducted in a total of 105 study locations across the United States, pending additional funding. These study locations were chosen for their geographic and demographic diversity and other criteria, such as the number of births and number of babies born at low birth weight.
“We are thrilled with the quality of the award recipients and what their participation in the study will mean for child health. With this large group of new study centers, we will be able to recruit expectant mothers from large parts of the country in rural, urban, small and large counties,” said Peter Scheidt, M.D., M.P.H., Director of the National Children’s Study.
New study centers were selected based on rigorous criteria including broad data collection capabilities, the ability to build extensive community networks for recruiting and retaining eligible women and newborns, and a demonstrated commitment to the protection and privacy of participant data.
Study centers will begin making preparations for recruitment immediately, including hiring and training staff, determining community needs, and setting up community advisory boards, with recruitment scheduled to begin in 2009. Some centers will manage operations in more than one study location as the study progresses.
The announcement of new study centers builds on the momentum of earlier study milestones, including the establishment of the vanguard centers — the first seven centers — in 2005. In fiscal year 2007, Congress appropriated $69 million for the study, allowing the National Children’s Study to fund the new study centers and step up recruitment activities at the vanguard centers.
The National Children’s Study is led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — through the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — and by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.