News / Health

    Comprehensive Study Looks at Environment, Genetic Risks in Child Health

    Multimedia

    Carol Pearson

    U.S. health officials have embarked on one of the most comprehensive evaluations of child health ever undertaken in the United States. Researchers will be collecting data on a host of environmental and genetic factors that impact children's health and the health of the adults they will become.  Doctors hope the results will shed new light on risk factors for autism, obesity and a host of other childhood health problems.

    The Southwest Freeway is a major highway near the Voice of America and the U.S. Capitol. The freeway gets clogged when people are on their way to and from work.  Just two blocks away is Amidon Elementary School.  On a code red day the air is not healthy to breathe.  Studies have shown that air pollution can cause lung problems in children: it makes asthma worse and has been linked to learning and memory problems.  

    Now another study is underway, the largest, most ambitious health study in U.S. history. It will look at how children react to environmental factors: the air they breathe, the water they drink, the soil they walk on and the food they eat.  The study will also include other factors: family dynamics, genetics, television viewing habits and many other things.

    "Our goal is to understand how you can get the healthiest, most robust child to develop into a healthy and contributing member of adult society," said Dr. Steven Hirshfeld, the study director.

    The study aims to enroll 100,000 children all across America in cities and rural communities, collecting health data on them starting before birth and continuing until age 21.  
    Jennifer is three months pregnant.  She is participating at the University of California, Los Angeles, or UCLA, one of the seven study centers across the country.

    "Living in Los Angeles I'm concerned about the pollution and the smog, and I'm also concerned about what I put in my body: is the food genetically modified, is the food organic? Do they [the manufacturers] add chemicals or preservatives, and how do those things have an effect on an unborn child?" Jennifer asked.

    Doctors will study 4,000 children in the Los Angeles area that could answer Jennifer's questions. They will also enroll 1,000 children in a more rural area to see what impact pesticides used on nearby farms might be having on their health. Dr. Michael Lu is one of the lead investigators at UCLA.

    "We're examining various child conditions such as asthma and autism, pre-term birth and birth defects, obesity and diabetes and various behavioral and learning problems," said Lu.

    The goal is to create a data base that researchers the world over can use. Dr. Hirshfeld says he hopes the data will supplement knowledge researchers already have.

    "We have knowledge gaps with many of the important factors that influence not only the health, well-being and development of children, but that begin the foundations of what could turn into chronic conditions for adults," said Hirshfeld.

    The study will try to determine possible causes of birth defects. It will also study behavior, learning, and mental health disorders.

    "I think this study has the potential to change the way we look at childhood health and development," added Lu.

    It may also change laws concerning child health and the environment. The findings will be available as research progresses.  That way officials can develop prevention strategies and health and safety guidelines so children can live healthier lives and grow into healthier adults.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora