Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Thursday, January 27, 2011

U-M taking part in largest comprehensive study of children's health

The National Children's Study launched in Michigan on Wednesday, enrolling Wayne County women between the ages of 18 and 49 who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant in the future.

Nationwide, 100,000 families are expected to participate in the study, which is the largest and most comprehensive study of children's health ever conducted.

"Ultimately, the study will improve our understanding of a wide range of issues affecting children and their families, from infant mortality and premature birth, to obesity, autism, asthma, behavior problems and many other developmental outcomes," says Daniel Keating, professor of psychology and lead investigator of the U-M portion of the study. Keating also is a faculty associate at the Institute for Social Research (ISR), which has primary responsibility for identifying and enrolling study participants.

Keating is collaborating with associate professor of biostatistics Michael Elliott, along with a large team of ISR survey research specialists led by Beth-Ellen Pennell, Kirsten Alcser and Shonda Kruger-Ndiaye.

The overall state portion of the national project is being coordinated by Michigan State University, under the auspices of the Michigan Alliance for the National Children's Study (MANCS). In addition to U-M and MSU, alliance members include Wayne State University, Children's Hospital of Michigan, Henry Ford Health System and the Michigan Department of Community Health, as well as local health departments in areas where the study will be conducted.

"As a nation, we spend billions to treat childhood conditions, but until now we have never supported large-scale research that examines the conditions and factors influencing a child's health before, during, and after birth," says Nigel Paneth, the MSU pediatrician and perinatal epidemiologist who is principal investigator of MANCS.

The ISR team will began enrolling Wayne County participants last week. Participants in four other Michigan counties — Grand Traverse, Lenawee, Genesee and Macomb — will be enrolled in the next few years.

"This study is a platform for a completely novel form of research," Keating says. "It combines survey research with biological, environmental and developmental assessments to help clarify how a broad range of factors — including genetics, environmental conditions, biology, chemistry, social relations and geography among them — interact with each other to influence children's health."

For information on the study, call 877-406-2627 or go to www.mancs.us. For information on eligibility to participate in the study, call 888-99-MI-NCS.