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

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy More

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.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid