Hopkins to study children's health

Public health school part of federal program

October 05, 2007|By Chris Emery | Chris Emery,Sun reporter

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health will participate in a far-reaching federally funded study of the environmental factors that affect children's health, officials from the National Institutes of Health announced yesterday.

The National Children's Study will follow 100,000 youngsters from before birth to age 21 to better understand how their surroundings and genetic heritage contribute to their health and development. It will investigate the effects of a wide range of environmental factors, including chemical exposure, physical surroundings, family and culture, socioeconomic status and geographic location.

Dr. Duane Alexander, director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, said the study will use recently developed biological research techniques and powerful computer programs to explore the causes of a host of childhood diseases, including asthma, autism and diabetes. It will also attempt to determine how childhood exposure to environmental stresses leads to illnesses in adulthood.

"There is mounting evidence that health hazards in children affect adults, as well," Alexander said.

Hopkins, one of 22 new study centers announced by NIH, will begin enrolling children from Baltimore County for the study next year. Exact figures were not available, but Hopkins will initially receive $700,000 to $1.2 million for the research.

The $3.2 billion study will be conducted in 105 communities nationwide, including Baltimore and Montgomery counties.

The results of the study will be released as it progresses. The first data are expected to be available in 2009 or 2010. The effort is a collaboration between the Department of Health and Human Services (including NIH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the Environmental Protection Agency.

chris.emery@baltsun.com

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