UW News

December 14, 2010

UW, WSU collaborate in landmark national study of children’s health

UW Health Sciences/UW Medicine

The Pacific Northwest Center today announced the launch of a campaign to recruit area families into the National Children’s Study, the largest long-term study of children’s health and development ever undertaken in the United States. The study begins its launch this month in Grant County Washington as it asks community members to “Say Yes To The Vest.” Study team members in trademarked red vests are going door-to-door in the campaign to track the health and development of Grant County children from before birth through their 21st birthday.

Leading the collaboration between the University of Washington and Washington State University, as well as other important health agencies like the Grant County Health District and the Moses Lake and Quincy Community Health Centers, are Dr. Elaine Faustman, UW professor of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, and Dr. Patricia Butterfield, professor and dean of the Washington State University College of Nursing. Together they will direct the study team in Grant County.

“We are very happy to begin recruiting and enrolling participants in Grant County,” Faustman said. “Our red-vested study team members are a tangible symbol of how we can bring benefit to Grant County and the rest of the country by uncovering important health information at virtually every phase of life. While we have some information on how the environment affects adults, children’s bodies are still growing and changing and they take in more air, food, and water for their weight. Ultimately, in this study we are tracking how the physical and social environments interact with genetics to impact the health of our developing children — learning how where they live, learn and play can make a difference in their health.”

The National Children’s Study has been recruiting volunteers across the country to take part in its comprehensive study of children’s health; and now Grant County residents are being called upon to help the effort grow and be successful. Over the coming weeks, Study team members will be canvassing certain areas in the county and inviting eligible women aged 18 to 49 years of age to participate. Team members also are asking residents without children questions that will serve as background data. Residents who are interested in participating or learning more are asked to call the toll free number: 1-855-733-8378, or 1-855-RED-VEST.

Dr. Patricia Butterfield, citing the importance of outreach and participation among area residents, echoes messaging seen in the group’s community outreach efforts.

“When the National Children’s Study comes to your neighborhood, please say yes to the vest and open your door,” she said. “What we learn from the whole community — not just from parents—will help inform what we currently know about children’s health and their development. We hope to gain greater insight and understanding of childhood conditions like asthma, diabetes and autism.”

Although the study can be expected to provide information throughout its duration, important findings on disorders and conditions of early life are expected within the next few years. Because the study will enroll pregnant women and, in some cases, women who are planning on becoming pregnant, study scientists hope to identify a range of early life factors that influence later development.

Washington State University and the University of Washington both bring the highest caliber research and healthcare credentials to the NCS in Grant County: the Washington State University College of Nursing is the largest in the Pacific Northwest; and the University of Washington is a national leader in child health research. The Grant County Field Office of the National Children’s Study is located at 321 South Beech Street in downtown Moses Lake.