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Mississippi Taking Part in Study Tracking Children from Birth to Age 21

By Daniel Cherry | Published 07 Mar 2011 12:17pm | comments

Mississippi is one of several sites to take part in the largest long-term study of children's health ever conducted in the United States. It kicked off yesterday in Hinds County and MPB's Daniel Cherry reports on how the program is going to be conducted.

The National Children's Study asks expecting mothers to volunteer for the project which will follow a child from before birth until they are 21 years old. The center of operations in Mississippi is based in the University of Mississippi Medical Center ...It's one of more than 100 similar locations nationwide Dr. Sharon Wyatt is the Principal Investigator at the Hinds County study location. She says Mississippi has a lot to gain from the study.

"It is crucial that Mississippi has the opportunity to tell our story, and to learn the factors that go into health situations here to help us improve our health as well."

The purpose of the study is to follow one hundred thousand children in their environments and examine factors influencing health like diet, air, water, dust and how often they go to the doctor. Mississippi is currently only taking 100 volunteers, but next year will expand to over one thousand. Professor of Pediatrics Dr. Bev Evans says having this information compiled is going to make strides in narrowing down solutions to health concerns.

"To find one individual with a problem you think was caused by this may not be applicable to the entire population, but when you study 100,000 children, you'll be able to come up with statistically meaningful, epidemiological data."

Dr. Evans says many health issues later in life are determined when a child is in the womb...that's why it's important to identify the triggers. Maggie Wade Dixon is the chair of the Community Advisory Board for the local study location. She says Mississippi is a fertile ground for making advances in health care.

"Every time you hear the national studies about health in this state, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, Mississippi is always at the top for having problems. We don't want this to be about problems. We want this to be about solutions."

Anyone wishing to volunteer for the study can go online to www.nationalchildrensstudy.gov. Daniel Cherry...MPB News. 

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