Stead Family Department of Pediatrics

Iowans participate in National Children's Study

National Children's Study

Learning more about the causes of autism, asthma, cerebral palsy, diabetes, learning disabilities, preterm birth, and obesity is at the heart of the nation’s largest long-term study on children’s health. The University of Iowa is partnering with health and educational organizations in Polk County to register volunteers for the National Children’s Study to learn more about how the environment and genetics affect children’s health and development.

The study will track a representative sample of 100,000 children across the nation from before birth to age 21. Polk County is one of 37 study locations nationwide enrolling volunteers who are pregnant or may become pregnant in the next few years. Volunteers will fill out questionnaires about their environment and family health histories, and provide more information when visiting clinics at study centers. By analyzing the information, researchers expect to gain understanding
of how diet, exposure to chemicals, and other factors might interact with genes to affect health and growth.

“Research like this is important because there are a number of pediatric diseases that we just don’t know much about, and many of these are becoming epidemics within the pediatric community,” says Jeff Murray, MD, a UI pediatric researcher and the study’s lead investigator.

The Polk County lead investigator is Rizwan Shah, MD, medical director of the Regional Child Protection Center at Blank Children’s Hospital, part of Iowa Health-Des Moines. She works in partnership with Visiting Nurse Services, the Polk County Health Department, Mercy and Broadlawns medical centers, and Des Moines University.