UCLA's role in landmark National Children's Study expands
The National Institutes of Health approved UCLA for the recruitment of an additional 2,000 study participants for the National Children's Study (1,000 in LA County and 1,000 in Ventura County), making the UCLA center one of the largest study sites in the nation.
"This is exciting news for UCLA, our study collaborators, and the residents of Los Angeles and Ventura counties," said principal investigator Dr. Neal Halfon, professor of pediatrics, public health and public policy at UCLA and director of the UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families and Communities. "The study will provide crucial information about many of the burdensome conditions affecting our most vulnerable population. This funding is a tremendous step towards fully implementing this landmark study on the impact of environmental factors on children's health and will allow us to expand the reach of the study, working with many more communities across southern California to improve the health of their children."
The largest child health study ever conducted in the United States, the National Children's study will follow 100,000 children from before birth to age 21 to identify genetic and environmental factors that contribute to health disorders and conditions of childhood and adulthood. The goal is to collect information that will help 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 will eventually include 105 study centers across the United States. Pending future funding, the UCLA Los Angeles and Ventura Study Center is expected to continue growing and eventually enroll 5,000 participants.
In 2007, the UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families and Communities was selected as one of the first study centers for the National Children's Study, and was granted $14 million to launch the study and enroll the first wave of 1,000 participants in Los Angeles County. The additional allocation of $17.4 million will boost enrollment in the study to 2000 children in Los Angeles and will also add 1000 children from Ventura County. The National Children's Study Los Angeles/Ventura County Study Center has been approved for a total grant of $47.9 million dollars.
Preparations for conducting the National Children's Study in Los Angeles and Ventura County are well underway. Given the complexity and the size of this research project, a two-year set-up phase is projected. The study will begin with a random sample of 1000 children drawn from 14 L.A. County neighborhoods, and will soon expand to include an additional 1000 children from 14 additional neighborhoods.
In Ventura County, researchers and directors from the Children and Families First 5 Commission, the Department of Public Health, and the UCLA National Children's Study Center have started planning. The first phase is to conduct the highly technical multi-step process of selecting a sample.
"The National Children's Study provides us with a unique opportunity to fully understand the effects of environmental conditions on the health and the development of our children," said Lois Manning, director of Ventura County Public Health, Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Program.
Claudia Harrison, executive director of First 5 Ventura County added, "Results from this study will dramatically increase our understanding of local needs so we can develop targeted programs that improve the lives of children and families in the County."
To identify children who may be eligible to participate, members of the study will canvass the randomly selected neighborhoods using a door-to door recruitment strategy. In each of the selected neighborhoods the study team will partner with local community agencies and organizations in order to achieve optimum community participation.
"The children invited to participate in the study will be part of a historic effort that will measure and monitor their health for 21 years," said Halfon. "Active community participation will be important not only to help enroll those children and families that are potentially eligible, but also help collect the kind of local community based data that will be key for understanding local influences on long term health and development."
Actual data collection for the first wave is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2010, and the second wave will begin in 2011.
For questions on the National Children's Studies Los Angeles/Ventura Study Center, please contact Celia Brugman, senior community liaison at (310) 312-9076 or [email protected]. For more information about the National Children's Study, please visit www.nationalchildrensstudy.gov.
The UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families and Communities is an internationlly distiguished leader in child health research and policy. The National Children's Study grant is housed within the division of child health policy and community pediatrics at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA. The UCLA-based team of scientific investigators is joined by collaborating investigators from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the University of Southern California, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, the Los Angeles Department of Public Health, First 5 Los Angeles County, the Ventura County Public Health Department, First 5 Ventura County, the Research Triangle Institute and the Rand Corp. For more details, please visit www.healthychild.ucla.edu.