WSU will be collaborating with UW on a an ambitious long-term study of Children’s health.
Faculty from the WSU College of Nursing have embarked on a collaboration with UW faculty on the National Children’s Study, the largest long-term study of children’s health and development ever launched in the U.S. Team members of the national study will knock on about 1.2 million doors in search of 100,000 families willing to participate, said Lindsay Warner, communication director for the College of Nursing. The study is based on observation and questioning and will follow children from before birth to age 21, a commitment of essentially 22 years total. The Northwest portion of the national study was awarded to UW and subcontracted with WSU, she said. However, both universities are participating as a partnership.
Leaders of the study launched the Grant County campaign in December, the first and only campaign launched for the national study so far, Warner said. There are plans to launch more campaigns in the Northwest, including one in King County and a potential campaign in Thurston County. “UW will run the King County study while WSU is predominant in running the Grant County study,” Warner said. Research for the study has three phases, said Kim Lamb, Community Liaison for the National Children’s Study Grant County Field Office. The Grant County study is part of the preliminary phase and will be used to gather information on how to best run the rest of the study. The major national study will begin in 2012. “Basically, it’s a pilot study right now,” she said. “They’re trying to find out what the most cost-effective and effective way is to get people to participate.” Elaine Faustman, UW professor of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, and Patricia Butterfield, professor and dean of the WSU College of Nursing, will direct the study team in Grant County together, Warner said. “While we have some information on how the environment affects adults, children’s bodies are still growing and changing and they take in more air, food and water for their weight,” Faustman said in a press release. “Ultimately, in this study we are tracking how the physical and social environments interact with genetics to impact the health of our developing children – learning how where they live, learn and play can make a difference in their health.” The campaign WSU is working on in Grant County was selected because it is in a rural area, Warner said. Leaders of the national study seek to analyze children in different environments, including urban and rural. According to the press release, study scientists hope to identify a range of early life factors that influence later development, especially those that can influence the development of childhood diseases and disorders.
“What we learn from the whole community – not just from parents—will help inform what we currently know about children’s health and their development,” Butterfield said. “We hope to gain greater insight and understanding of childhood conditions like asthma, diabetes and autism.” Other health agencies collaborating on the study include The Pacific Northwest Center for Human Health and Ocean Studies, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Grant County Health District, Warner said.