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It was two years ago when the University of Texas Southwestern was asked to help organize Lamar County’s participation in the National Children’s Study (NCS), one of the most comprehensive research efforts focused on children’s growth, development and health in the United States. It’s now time for a community update.
“The NCS is a long term study designed to examine the differences, such as access to healthcare, disease occurrence or exposure to environmental toxins, between groups of children across the country, and to identify the factors that contribute to these differences or disparities,” NCS Community Outreach & Engagement Manager Sherry Lloyd said. “The NCS will take place in two phases; currently the Vanguard Study, which is a pilot phase that is evaluating the feasibility, acceptability and cost of the study and, subsequently, the Main Study.”
The Vanguard Study started in 2007 and is taking place in 40 locations across the US. Lamar County is one of these locations.
“The Vanguard Study is focused on testing and evaluating the best ways to collect and manage the information provided by families about their child, as well as assessing the best approaches to keeping families engaged and willing to participate in the Study,” Lloyd said.
The National Institutes of Health recently implemented a new regional approach for managing this study, according to officials.
Lamar County is now part of the South Region and is being led by a team from three entities: Northwestern University in Chicago, Delve Research Marketing in St. Louis and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock.
“The Lamar County Data Collector is a resident of the community and worked on the Vanguard Study previously with local participants,” she said.
The NCS is no longer enrolling children in Lamar County but is now concentrating on how to best stay in touch with the children and their families and keep them participating in the study to continue and gather information as the children grow older.
As part of this retention effort, the South Region team plans to have a local NCS office in Lamar County where participants can conveniently come for their scheduled data collection appointments.
“We are following over 150 babies in Lamar County in this 21 year study,” Lloyd said. “The South Region team will be spending a lot of time over the next several years in Lamar County communities and the relationships that we are building help to fuel participant retention and community engagement.”
“Residents of Lamar County have embraced the National Children’s Study with open arms,” Dr. Jane Holl, M.D., M.P.H. from Northwestern University and one of the NCS principal investigators said. ”During the entire recruitment and enrollment period, families were supportive and recognized the important knowledge that will be gained from this study.”
“As part of the Vanguard Study, we will focus on continuing to gather high quality data, to engage and retain families in the study, and to reach out and inform the community. Our research team has successfully started following and gathering information from more than 150 families about their toddlers through telephone calls and home visits. The commitment of these families to continue to participate in the NCS Vanguard Study is a testament to the wonderful relationship that was established by the team from the University of Texas Southwestern with them — one that we fully intend to live up to. The continued contribution to the Study by these families for the next 21 years could make a difference in children’s health for generations to come,” continues Holl.
Other Study locations included in the NCS South Region along with Lamar County are Baldwin County, GA; Baker County, FL; Benton County, AR; Bexar County, TX: Davidson County, TN; Hinds County, MS; Harris County, TX; Orleans Parish, LA; and Valencia County, NM.
If you are a Lamar County participant in the NCS and need to contact the South Region Center, call (877) 749-0333 or email NCSSouth@ncsoperations.org.
By Josh Allen, eParis Extra
More About the National Children’s Study
The National Children’s Study (NCS) is the largest long-term study of children’s health ever conducted in the United States, and will follow 100,000 children from before birth to age 21 to learn how the environment influences children’s health, development and quality of life. The Study is led by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in collaboration with a consortium of federal government partners. Study partners include the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the NIH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Environmental Protection Agency.