SDSU to ‘make an impact’ in children’s health in National Children’s Study

Amy Poppinga

Amy Poppinga

As a Vanguard Center of research for the National Children’s Study, SDSU is set to make an impact in the area of children’s health.

According to its Web site, the NCS will follow 100,000 children from birth to age 21 to study the effects of environmental factors-such as air, water, what they eat and how often they see a doctor-on their health and development.

105 sites throughout the country, located in rural, urban and suburban areas, will be used to collect data for the study. SDSU’s site for research includes Brookings Co., S.D., and Yellow Medicine, Pipestone and Lincoln counties in Minn., otherwise known as the BYPL area.

Tianna Beare, the Ethel Austin Martin Program Manager, said, “The BYPL area can feel an added sense of pride knowing that we will be one of the few sites representing America’s rural population.”

As one of the seven Vanguard Centers in the study, SDSU has special distinction from other study centers, because each Vanguard Center began study activities a full year before the other study centers and the Vanguard Centers are required to recruit 250 more participants.

SDSU was first contracted for the study in November 2005. Since then, SDSU has assisted in the study’s hypotheses development and protocol formation and has conducted community outreach and engagement activities, according to Beare.

Currently SDSU is “responsible for engaging community members in their designated areas in order to educate about the study’s purpose and subsequently recruit eligible and willing participants for the study,” said Beare.

In Fall 2008, SDSU will begin recruitment. According to Beare, researchers will go door-to-door, seeking participants from the BYPL area. Physicians may also refer women for the study, and participants must be enrolled before or within the first trimester of pregnancy or at the time of delivery to be eligible.

Throughout the study, SDSU will be expected to collect and process data, test different research components for incorporation into the full study and report to the study’s main program office, according to the NCS Web site.

From the study, researchers hope to uncover the root causes of many childhood and adult diseases, such as asthma, obesity, diabetes and behavior, learning and mental health disorders.

“The National Children’s Study has the potential to be very beneficial for future generations,” said senior health promotion majors Lindsey Binger and Christee Staufer. “Through the research conducted during the NCS, scientists will hopefully gain a better understanding of how and why certain health-related events occur. Then, scientists, health educators, government leaders and parents can work to prevent or at least more accurately treat the diseases.”

Beare also believes the study will be useful in the long run. “When completed, the National Children’s Study will be the richest information resource for questions related to child health that this country has ever seen,” she said. “This study will not only lay groundwork for substantial improvements in children’s health, it will also allow us to save billions of dollars in future health care costs.”