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Updated 1:30 PM October 12, 2007




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U-M to lead $4.4 million portion of National Children's Study

The University is part of a state research consortium taking part in the National Children's Study, an ambitious effort to examine environmental influences on the health and development of more than 100,000 children across the nation.

"This study is unprecedented in the depth of information that will be collected," says Daniel Keating, director of the Center for Human Growth and Development, and lead investigator of the $4.4 million U-M portion of the study. Keating also is a faculty associate at the Institute for Social Research (ISR) Survey Research Center, which will have primary responsibility for identifying and enrolling state study participants.

"Ultimately, the study promises to 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," Keating says.

A total of 5,000 Michigan children and their parents eventually will be assessed, from Wayne, Genesee, Grand Traverse, Lenawee and Macomb counties. The researchers plan to enroll participants from all major racial and ethnic groups and different socioeconomic strata in proportion to their presence in county populations.

Keating, biostatistician Michael Elliott, and colleagues Steven Heeringa and William Axinn from ISR will launch fieldwork for the project in 2008 by screening 12,000 Wayne County households. Their goal: to identify and enroll participants prior to conception when possible and no later than the first trimester of pregnancy.

The U-M team also will be responsible for obtaining developmental assessments on infants and children, both in the hospital and during home visits when the children are 6 months, 1 and 2 years old. Eventually the researchers hope to follow study participants through age 21.

"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."

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