The National Children's Study
Monroe County, New York
The National Children’s Study is a prospective, epidemiological study that is following 100,000 American children from conception to age 21. The goal is to discover the factors in the environment that promote good health and those that contribute to disease in America’s children. Findings from the study will allow us to create an evidence-based blueprint for disease prevention.
The National Children’s Study is a long-term research project that will examine environmental influences on children's health and development.
More than 100,000 children across the United States will participate in the National Children’s Study. Researchers will follow children from before birth until age 21. Observing children through their different phases of growth and development will allow researchers to better understand the role of environmental factors on health and development.
The study defines “environment” broadly and will take into account:
- biological and chemical factors
- physical surroundings
- social factors
- behavioral influences and outcomes
- cultural and family influences and differences
- geographic locations
Researchers will analyze which aspects of the environment are harmful and which are helpful to children’s health and development. By linking a range of environmental factors to multiple outcome measures, the Study will help pinpoint the root causes of many of today’s major childhood diseases and disorders such as:
- neurodevelopmental and learning disorders
- birth defects
Children are not simply "little adults." Four fundamental differences contribute to children’s unique vulnerability to toxic exposures in the environment1.
- Children have disproportionately heavy exposures to environmental toxicants due to their greater intake pound-for-pound of food, water, and air, coupled with their unique behaviors – in particular, hand-to-mouth behavior.
- Children’s metabolic pathways, especially in the first months after birth, are immature. In many instances, they are less able than adults to deal with toxic compounds.
- Children are undergoing rapid growth and development. These developmental processes create windows of great vulnerability in which the course of development can be permanently disrupted by environmental toxins.
- Because children have more future years of life than adults, they have more time to develop chronic diseases that may be initiated by early exposures.
Shanna H. Swan, PhD
Professor and Associate Chair for Research, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Professor, Department of Environmental Medicine
Professor, Department of Public Health Sciences
Peter Szilagyi, MD, MPH
Professor, Department of Pediatrics
Professor, Center for Community Health
The National Children’s Study is funded by the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, and the Environmental Protection Agency.