News Release

Thursday, October 4, 2007

NIH Announces Addition of 22 New Study Centers in National Children's Study

The National Children's Study announced today that it awarded contracts in late September to 22 new study centers to manage participant recruitment and data collection in 26 additional communities across the United States. Funding for the new study centers and the study's initial phase is a result of a $69 million appropriation from Congress in fiscal year 2007.

The National Children’s Study is the largest study to be conducted on the effects of environmental and genetic factors on child and human health in the United States. The study 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.

"The National Children's Study is poised to identify the early antecedents of a broad array of diseases that affect both children and adults," said Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., Director of the National Institutes of Health. "Such insights will lead to the means to successfully treat and even prevent conditions that to date have defied our best efforts."

"Today's announcement represents a milestone for the National Children's Study," said Duane Alexander, M.D., Director of the NIH's National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, at today's briefing. "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.”

"Study researchers will examine not only what children are eating and drinking, but what's in the air they breathe, what's in the dust in their homes, and their possible exposures to chemicals from materials used to construct their homes and schools," Alexander said. "The researchers also will analyze blood and other biological samples from study participants to test for exposure to environmental factors and examine whether those factors might influence their health."

The announcement was made today in Washington, D.C.

The study centers will manage the study in 20 states. There are study locations in both urban and rural areas. Fifteen locations are in the Eastern part of the country, and 11 are in the West. (See page 3 for a complete list of Centers and the locations they will manage).

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. (See: Section 1004, 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 (the first seven centers, established in 2005).

The 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 at the NIH, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Dr. Alexander explained that the new study centers were selected based on rigorous criteria: a strong ability to collect data for the study, the ability to build extensive community networks for recruiting eligible women and newborns, and a demonstrated capability to protect the privacy of the information collected on participants. The centers consist of universities, hospitals, and health departments, or represent collaborations between these or other organizations.

"The centers will begin hiring and training staff, meeting with local community groups and health care professionals to inform them about the study, and forming community advisory boards to inform communities about developments in a range of study-related issues," said Peter Scheidt, M.D., M.P.H., director of the National Children's Study.

"Building trusting relationships with community leaders will be critical to the success of the study's recruitment efforts," said Yvonne Maddox, Ph.D., Deputy Director of the NICHD. She explained that teams from each study center will engage in community-based grassroots campaigns to explain the potential benefits of the study, build relationships with area health care providers, and reach out to parenting groups and other organizations offering health information and support to families.

In total, the study is planned to be conducted in 105 previously designated study locations across the United States that together are representative of the entire U.S. population. As Dr. Maddox explained, a national probability sample was used to select the counties in the study, which took into account factors including race and ethnicity, income, education level, number of births, and number of babies born with low birth weights.

Additional information about the National Children's Study is available from

The NICHD sponsors research on development, before and after birth; maternal, child, and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation. For more information, visit the Institute's Web site at

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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