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Major U.S. childhood study cancelled

By Tim Sandle     Dec 24, 2014 in Science
Washington - The U.S. National Institutes of Health has terminated its initiative to track the health of 100,000 children through adulthood has been cancelled. The project was costing too much money and the data was not meaningful.
In 2000, the U.S. Congress commissioned the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to launch an initiative called the National Children’s Study (NCS). This study aimed to follow 100,000 children from birth to age 21. The research intended to measure, across the life course, the many factors that contribute to health and disease from before birth through adulthood.
However, almost 15 years and after more than $1 billion has been spent, the project is to be dissolved. The decision was made by NIH Director Francis Collins based on a recommendation made by an NIH working group.
The NIH will continue to study human development and the influences of the environment on health and disease; however the major project does not give the necessary depth of research information required. Furthermore, budget and management issues were making the project too costly and too complex. Furthermore, a U.S. Institute of Medicine report strongly criticized the NCS’s structure and budget.
The NCS enrolled about 5,700 children in 40 pilot centers across the country during the 15 year run. The NIH will shut down the 40 pilot centers and stop collecting data on enrolled participants. Samples that have already been collected may be stored for future study.
In retrospect, Francis Collins, NIH director, says: "The goals of the study were laudable and they remain laudable. Most of us believe it should now be possible to accomplish those goals at a substantially lower cost and higher efficiency."
Because the NCS did not have standardized methodologies for recruiting families and collecting data, however, information extracted from such samples may be difficult to analyze, environmental health expert Marie Lynn Miranda of the University of Michigan has told the magazine Nature.
More about Federal, Childhood, Research, National Institutes of Health
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