Hawai’i part of nation's largest study in U.S. history on children’s health

1,000 Hawai‘i children to be tracked before birth to age 21

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Tina Shelton 554-2586, 692-0897
Communications Director
Posted: Oct 4, 2007

The National Children‘s Study announced today that the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawai‘i will be involved in the largest study of child and human health ever conducted in the United States.

Nationally, the study will involve more than 100,000 families and cost nearly $3 billion. The effort, over 2 decades, will track children from before they‘re born until they turn 21. One thousand Hawai‘i families will take part, as researchers seek information to treat and prevent some of the nation‘s most pressing health problems, including autism, asthma, birth defects, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

Americans already spend $642 billion* per year to battle just six of the chronic diseases highlighted in the study. Reducing those costs just by 1% would save $6.4 billion per year.

Even more significant is that the study could improve health for generations of Hawai‘i citizens. Along with their biologic data, samples of the air, water and dust around the children will be regularly compiled. And information will be collected about what children eat and even the safety of their neighborhoods.

The Hawai‘i effort will involve work with health care professionals, community leaders, local hospitals, the Hawai‘i State Department of Health, and efforts door-to-door to recruit women who are pregnant or likely to have a child in the near future.

"We are asking women to volunteer their time to participate in a study that will help children in the future," said Dr. Sauvage. "We are asking them to let us into their homes and lives, to help us understand factors that affect child health and development."

The Hawaii study is led by Dr. Lynnae Sauvage, interim chair of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women‘s Health at the John A. Burns School of Medicine.

The Burns School was chosen because of its proven medical and research capabilities, and its capacity to work closely with the local community over the more than 20 years of the study, according to the NICHD.

The National Children‘s Study began in response to the Children‘s Health Act of 2000, when Congress mandated research into environmental and genetic factors on child and human health. The study involves the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (including the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

(*Current annual U.S. costs: Obesity $117 billion, Injury $393 billion, Asthma $13 billion, Diabetes $98 million, Schizophrenia $9 billion, Autism $12 billion.)

For more information: Contact Lynnae Sauvage, MD
(808) 554-4123