National Children’s Study launching here

Health Science Center leaders now recruiting in Bexar County for nation’s largest long-term childhood health study

SAN ANTONIO (June 21, 2011) — The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio has begun enrolling local patients in what will likely be the nation’s largest long-term study on childhood and pregnancy.

The National Children’s Study is a federally funded survey that will examine the effects of the environment – including such factors as air, water, diet, noise, family dynamics, genetics, and community and cultural influences – on 100,000 children across the United States. The study begins by recruiting pregnant women, and will follow the growth, development, and health of their children until age 21.

The study’s principal investigators and staff will join with study participants and community leaders, including Health Science Center President William L. Henrich, M.D., and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, to formally launch the long-term study at a June 28 ceremony at 10 a.m. at Bluffcreek Towers, 4201 Medical Drive.

“There is so much to learn about the conditions in a child’s world that influence that child’s lifelong health,” said Daniel E. Hale, M.D., professor of pediatrics in the School of Medicine at the UT Health Science Center and principal investigator for the Bexar site. The same group will also launch Hidalgo and Travis county sites at a later date. “The National Children’s Study will help us understand the many ways environmental factors interact with a child’s genetic inheritance,” Dr. Hale said. Researchers hope to learn about contributing factors of autism, asthma, childhood obesity and many other issues.

Co-principal investigator Donald J. Dudley, M.D., is particularly interested in the outcomes that the study will reveal. The professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the School of Medicine at the UT Health Science Center said the response of providers has been strong.

“We’ve only been actively recruiting about two months, and already about 20 women have joined the study,” Dr. Dudley said. “That tells you that women are interested in the study because they’re interested in the health of their children.”

The San Antonio-based site is one of the earlier ones up and running in the complex study, which will have 105 sites across the country. It is a logical choice, Dr. Dudley said. “We are a good example of where population trends are headed in the United States.”

“It’s a longitudinal study from the perspective that we’ll be observing health outcomes of both pregnant women and their children as they grow over the course of 20 years,” Dr. Dudley said, “but it is a little different in that we’re not doing any interventions, we’re just following outcomes of the gene/environment interaction in the world of a child.”

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, one of the country’s leading health sciences universities, ranks in the top 3 percent of all institutions worldwide receiving federal funding. Research and other sponsored program activity totaled $228 million in fiscal year 2010. The university’s schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced approximately 26,000 graduates. The $744 million operating budget supports eight campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. For more information on the many ways “We make lives better®,” visit www.uthscsa.edu.



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