Mississippi will have a part in the largest long-term study of children ever conducted. Doctors are hoping the study can unravel major health mysteries.

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Largest Study of Children Has a Home in Mississippi

By Daniel Cherry | Published 27 Nov 2011 05:00pm | comments

Researchers in Mississippi are kicking off their part of the largest, long-term study of children's health ever conducted in the United States. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports the goal is to get cure many of the nation's most pressing health concerns.

Hinds County is one of only 100 counties across the nation taking part in the National Children's Study. The study will take more than one thousand children from Mississippi and follow them from before birth until age 21. Dr. Sharon Wyatt, Principal Investigator with the Children's Study says they're looking for trends in children's environments.

"The women and children who agree to be part of this study, they will be contributing information about the interactions of environments and genes, where children live, where they grow, where they go to school and how that impacts health outcomes."

Researchers say human genes adapt slowly, but environment changes much faster. Owen Evans a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Mississippi Medical Center says he's seen trends towards hyperactivity and autism in recent years. He's hoping the study can uncover the environmental triggers.

"We go to the home. We go to the neighborhood. We're going to look at water, their dust. If you have an area that has a high instance of obesity and hypertension, is there something in their environment that might be contributing to this?"

The University of Mississippi Medical Center will house the study in Mississippi. Dr. James Keaton is the Dean of the UMC Medical School. He says the students there will be gaining a new perspective on health care...shifting away from TREATING disease and focusing more on CURING them.

"That's after the fact. The fox is out, and we can't catch him. So here we are treating disease after it happened. What this is going to do is get our students thinking about preventative health care. What we need to do from the beginning."

The study will follow about 100 thousand children across the nation.

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