If you knew that your child's lifestyle would greatly impact his or her health as an adult, would you make a change?
Later this month, the United Nations will draw together health and policy leaders from around the world for a high-level meeting on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Part of the meeting will emphasize the importance of early disease origin, which requires considerable study and surveillance, to address the global NCD issue. By obtaining an accurate, wide range of data from a diverse population, health professionals and member states will be able to address public health threats more effectively through country-specific prevention strategies related to this health topic, saving economies around the world billions of dollars from lost productivity due to health issues.
Research suggests that environmental factors in childhood and even in the womb can contribute to the development of non-communicable diseases, such as cancer and diabetes, later in life. To effectively address NCDs - the number one cause of death and disability in the United States and the world - it is necessary to understand their early origins.
To that end, the National Children's Study will research over 100,000 children across the United States, ages ranging from before birth to 21, to develop a more complete understanding of environmental factors related to NCDs.
"The development of medical practice, including preventive care, depends on accurate and credible data," said Dr. Steven Hirschfeld, Acting Director of National Children's Study. "The National Children's Study has the capacity to help us learn about the factors that lead to health."
This unprecedented initiative, lead by NIH's National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), will examine the effects of the environment (broadly defined to include factors such as air, diet, activity level, and cultural influences) on the development and health of these children. The National Children's Study will play a key role in doctors' comprehension of the developmental origins of NCDs, which will help them to advise and empower parents around the world.