Hawaii to take part in long-term study on kids' health

Dr. Elizabeth McFarlane
Dr. Elizabeth McFarlane
Dr. Beatriz Rodriguez
Dr. Beatriz Rodriguez

By Ben Gutierrez - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii will be part of an unprecedented long-term study of children's health in the United States.

The "National Children's Study" will ultimately involve 100,000 children around the country, and follow them for 21 years.

Researchers announced that they will be looking for women who are about to have children.

"A woman needs to be between the ages of 18 and 49 years of age. She can be pregnant, hoping to become pregnant, or become pregnant over the study period," said Dr. Elizabeth McFarlane, a research investigator for the study.

Then, the study will take a long-term look at the child.

"We want to study the baby before the baby is born throughout the pregnancy, and all the way until the child turns 21 years old," said research co-director Dr. Beatriz Rodriguez.

"This will be the largest study of child health and development ever conducted across the U.S., with over a thousand children (in Hawaii) enrolled and followed through age 21," the study's principal investigator, Dr. Lynnae Sauvage, said.

Overall, the researchers want to examine the effects of various genetic and environmental influences on the health and development of the one thousand children in Hawaii as they grow up and become adults.

"We are interested in looking at a number of common diseases that occur in childhood and adolescence," said Dr. Rodriguez. "This includes diabetes and obesity."

The researchers also said the study will not involved any medical procedures. They just want to ask questions.

"It's an observational study where we're just asking people to tell us about their daily lives, about where their children live, work and play, about what kinds of foods they eat," Dr. McFarlane said.

The University of Hawaii's John A. Burns School of Medicine is one of only 37 study centers around the country that will start the research. They hope to recruit at least a thousand women to participate, and have targeted a dozen random neighborhoods on Oahu. Those neighborhoods are Moanalua, Salt Lake, Pearl Harbor, Ewa Beach, Waipahu, Mililani, Schofield Barracks, Waianae, Haleiwa, Hauula, Kailua, and the Honolulu International Airport area. Homes in those neighborhoods will receive postcards in the mail starting around October 11.

"And then, hopefully, by the end of October, we'll start knocking on the doors and asking people to participate in the study," Dr. Sauvage said. The field researchers making the door to door visits will have visible identification. Besides those visits, health care providers are also being asked to encourage pregnant women to take part. Participants will be given a modest reimbursement for their time.

The researchers say the results of the study ultimately will be used to improve the health and well-being of children in Hawaii and around the U.S. More information can be found at www.NationalChildrensStudy.gov. Those interested in participating in the study can e-mail ncsuhm@hawaii.edu.

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