PITTSBURGH, October 4, 2007 The University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH) has been selected as a study center in the National Childrens Study to assess the effects of environmental and genetic factors on child and human health in the United States. The study center will manage local participant recruitment and data collection in the largest study of child and human health ever conducted in the United States.
The University of Pittsburgh is one of 22 new study centers of the National Childrens Study, a collaborative effort between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (including the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
What we learn will help not only children and families in Pennsylvania, but will help children across the United States and shape child health guidance, interventions and policy for generations to come, said Roberta B. Ness, chair of the department of epidemiology at GSPH and principal investigator of the Pittsburgh study center.
The National Childrens Study eventually will follow a representative sample of 100,000 children from before birth to age 21, seeking information to prevent and treat some of the nations most pressing health problems, including autism, birth defects, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
The University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences are national leaders in maternal child health research. Previous contributions have included studies enhancing understanding of the determinants of preeclampsia and preterm delivery in pregnancy; diabetes and delinquency in children and adolescents; and best treatment for otitis media and other childhood conditions. The Pittsburgh study locations will focus on communities in Westmoreland County, Pa., and Marion County, W.Va. In those counties, selected women of reproductive age will be invited to participate in this long-term assessment of their environment, their health and the health of their future children.
In total, the study will be conducted in 105 previously designated study locations across the United States that together are representative of the entire U.S. population. A national probability sample was used to select the counties in the study, which took into account factors including race and ethnicity, income, education level, number of births and number of babies born with low birth weights.
The National Childrens Study began in response to the Childrens Health Act of 2000, when Congress directed the NICHD and other federal agencies to undertake a national, long-term study of children's health and development in relation to environmental exposures. Today's announcement of new study centers follows earlier study milestones, including the 2004 announcement of the 105 study locations and the establishment of the Vanguard centers (the first seven centers were established in 2005).
Founded in 1948 and fully accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health, GSPH is world-renowned for contributions that have influenced public health practices and medical care for millions of people. One of the top-ranked schools of public health in the United States, GSPH was the first fully accredited school of public health in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, with alumni who are among the leaders in their fields of public health. A member of the Association of Schools of Public Health, GSPH currently ranks third among schools of public health in NIH funding received. The only school of public health in the nation with a chair in minority health, GSPH is a leader in research related to women's health, HIV/AIDS and human genetics, among others. For more information about GSPH, visit the GSPH Web site at http://www.publichealth.pitt.edu.