A Massive National Effort to Study Children Is Threatened

By Veronique Greenwood | May 21, 2012 11:18 am

toddler

The NIH National Children’s Study was launched in 2000 with much fanfare and an important mission: to follow a hundred thousand of American children from birth to age 21 and collect data on the environmental, chemical, physical, and psychosocial factors affecting them, with an eye towards understanding diseases that start in childhood, including autism, diabetes and asthma.

Now, however, the study has been deemed too expensive to continue in the same form—so far, only about 4,000 children have been enrolled, at a cost of a billion dollars. While it makes sense to look into bringing the costs down, one of the NIH’s money-saving strategies is in danger of compromising the study’s statistical usefulness: instead of continuing to recruit children from all over the country, the NIH is proposing working with health maintenance organizations, or HMOs, to gather the remaining data. This move would mean that children in rural areas, which tend not to be served by HMOs, would be excluded, and the mountains of data the study is poised to gather would not be complete. Already, two advisory board members have resigned in protest of this proposed policy.

Given all the time and money have already been invested in the study, these changes are a big deal. To find out more about the National Children’s Study controversy, and learn about what’s happening next, check out Nature News‘ thorough coverage.

Image courtesy of leean_b / flickr

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine
  • Dennis

    I’ll happily grant that the information gathered would be useful, helpful, and is probably even necessary. But where is the justification for a current price tag of $12K per year per child? That seems insane by a factor of at least 10. Where did it all go? For that amount you could probably purchase health insurance for each child and simply require that all data be forwarded to a central repository and still have money left over to pay the folks who’ll have to collate and analyze the data.

  • Pgh

    The Pentagon blows a billion dollars a week in Afghanistan… building roads, water and power facilities for them… So why can’t we spend another billion on OUR children and studying the threats to their health? Oh, I forgot: Congress doesn’t care about 1) Science, and 2) children (who don’t vote).

  • ninalee

    how can a study launched only 12 years ago and with only 4000 children participating have already cost a billion dollars? How much is going to administrative costs? And perhaps a study was even done to see if this study was feasible, how many hundreds of thousands did some firm make compiling that data? I have lost faith in how our government handles our money, and it’s foolish uses of it. And the agencies it creates have the same lack of understanding of the value of a dollar as our big government has (or doesn’t have). Give ME the billion dollars and I’ll run your study for you…… and meanwhile, let’s spend some of this money on the homeless or the hungry or the children without a change of clothes for school the next day. Wake up!!!!!

  • Pippa

    But the data might show something that upsets big business. Of course we have to shut it down or make it’s findings questionable. Any professional politician knows this. Funding to the Party has to be maintained!

  • Pgh

    Pippa you make a good point. Notably, the areas that would no longer be covered (paid for) by this research study are remote, rural areas: precisely the locations in this nation that are more prone to get dumped on by huge industrial chemical plants, fracking and other drilling operations, and open pit mining of various sorts, and mountaintop removal (think WVa for coal) which has ALREADY been shown to cause health problems in WVa residents. Repub (and let’s face it, Dems who also have their fat fingers on the take) don’t want the US Sheeple to learn that their policies are maiming/ killing kids.

  • OO

    To understand the needs of children is to understand the needs of all who have ever lived. There is big business and much money to be made in suppressing the understanding of children.

  • Pat Thompson

    The NIH study can eventually reveal that the SYMPTOMS, by which those diseases-of-interest have been re-named, are usually caused by congenital VD which is in the bonemarrow and connective tissue — often passed down through families for several generations. The neurotoxic and tabooed symptoms of congenital VD have made it a main engine of organized crime; the “business” of organized crime is money-management; people who manage the money set the policy; criminals who set policy do so in their own favor.

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