HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Miwa Pualani Takashima Martin was born on Thursday. But even before then, she became a subject in a federally-funded study that will record part of her life until she turns 21.
"We'll be looking at the environmental exposure and life experiences that this child has, and how that affects her health and development over those 21 years," said Dr. Elizabeth McFarlane, a research investigator for the National Children's Study.
Miwa's parents, Chris Martin and Kazue Takashima of Kahala, said they decided to take part just last week.
"Someone came to our door and had a chance to explain it to us," Martin said, "and it sounded like it would be helpful to future generations of children, so we decided together that we wanted to help out with that."
Researchers said Miwa is the very first of what they hope will be a thousand children in Hawaii, who will be tracked periodically through a study center at the John A. Burns School of Medicine.
Nationally, the study's ultimate goal is to follow 100,000 children, to study the air they breathe, the foods they eat, the water they drink, and many other factors that could affect their health as they grow into adults.
"We know from prior research that there are exposures that children have in their early childhood that affect their later health outcomes, and we want to study those as carefully as we can to determine if there are links to those exposures," Dr. McFarlane said.
For example, will Miwa develop diabetes? Or suffer from childhood obesity?
Miwa's parents have already had their first interview for the study. "They asked us lots of questions about our plans for the baby in the future, and our plans about where we're going to live, the environment that we're going to be bringing Miwa into," Martin said.
What researchers won't do is tell the parents how to raise the child.
"We will be collecting that data, following the children, and when we find connections, sharing those connections so that we can make policy and health decisions for our families, based on that information," said Dr. McFarlane.
McFarlane said there are seven pregnant women who are candidates to enter the research, but they are looking for more. The study is looking for children from 12 randomly picked neighborhoods on Oahu, including Kaimuki, Makiki, Salt Lake, Kalihi, Ewa, Waipahu, Mililani, Schofield Barracks, Waianae, Hauula, Kailua, and an area near the Honolulu International Airport. People who are interested are asked to call 692-1920, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Web site: www.NationalChildrensStudy.gov