Hospital Named 'Vanguard Center' For NIH National Childhood Study


The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, in conjunction with Drexel University School of Public Health, has been chosen as one of six "Vanguard Centers" for the National Childhood Study.

Planned to be the largest study ever undertaken to assess the effects of the environment on child and adult health, the National Children's Study aims to follow a representative sample of children from early life through adulthood, seeking information to prevent and treat such health problems as autism, birth defects, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

When fully implemented, the study will collect data on as many as 100,000 children from birth until 21 years of age at 105 different sites.

In the search for environmental influences on human health – and their relationship to genetic constitution – National Children's Study researchers plan to examine such factors as the food children eat, the air they breathe, their schools and neighborhoods, their frequency of visits to a healthcare provider, and even the composition of the house dust in their homes.

Investigators also plan to gather biological samples from both parents and children and analyze them for exposure to environmental factors.

The six Vanguard Centers will pilot and complete the first phases of the study, which involves refining and finalizing the study plan and beginning to solicit women and their children in specific locations. Montgomery County is the site of the Children's Hospital-Drexel partnership. Donald Schwarz, M.D., Division of General Pediatrics, serves as the Hospital's principal investigator of the Children's Hospital-Drexel Vanguard Center.

In addition, Children's Hospital will work with the University of Pennsylvania Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics and industry to provide the data coordinating services for the study.

The National Children's Study is led by a consortium of federal agency partners: the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (including the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences at NIH, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Vanguard Centers were selected from a pool of applicants based on a track record of advanced clinical research and data-collection capabilities, including the ability to collect and manage biological and environmental specimens. Centers were also chosen for their ability to work within the community to identify, recruit and retain eligible mothers and infants.