Friday, February 10, 2006

National (US) Children's Study "Defunded"

The National Children’s Study was set up to examine the effects of environmental influences on the health and development of more than 100,000 children across the United States, following them from before birth until age 21. The study is lead by Edward B. Clark, Medical Director at Primary Children's Medical Center and Chair of Pediatrics at the University of Utah. It would have been the largest longitudinal study of children in US history. It was 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. It promised be one of the richest information resources available for answering questions related to children’s health and development. But President Bush’s FY2007 budget contains no funding for the study. The Office of Management and Budget this week announced that "The National Children's Study planning activities that are ongoing in FY2006 will be brought to a close by the end of the fiscal year. There are no plans for the NIH to continue the full-scale study in FY2007." Louise Collins reports Dr. Clark saying that “the expected cost — about $70 million this coming year to get going and another $150 million a year to carry it out, seems like a small amount compared to the billions that are spent each year on children's health problems. I really think a country that fails to invest in its children is morally bankrupt.” According to Clarke, who has just started to hire staff, he has not been told to stop working and he plans to lobby Congress for support of this project.

The study would have searched for environmental influences on human health, and their relationship to genetic constitution, and researchers planed to examine such factors as the food children eat, the air they breathe, their schools and neighborhoods, their frequency of visits to a health care provider, and even the composition of the house dust in their homes.

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