National Children's Study

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Source: National Institutes of Health

EOE Note: In 2014, the National Children's Study was placed "on hold." What follows is a statement from then NIH Director, Francis Collins: "After several years of piloting, the Main Study has still not been launched. Furthermore, NIH leadership and stakeholders have had concerns about the study, and those concerns were echoed in a report by the National Academies (NAS), issued in June 2014. As a result, I placed the launch of the Main Study on hold until critical questions regarding next steps could be answered to ensure that this important area of research is pursued in the most rigorous manner.....Today, the ACD considered the final report of the NCS working group. The report concluded that the overall goals of examining how environmental factors influence child health and development are meritorious and should continue to be a priority for future scientific support, but that the NCS as currently designed is not feasible."


The Division of Laboratory Sciences (DLS) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s National Center for Environmental Health is collaborating with the National Institute of Child Health and Development (NICHD) on the National Children's Study. This study is the largest ever undertaken to assess the effects of the environment on child and adult health. This nationwide study follows a representative sample of children from early life through adulthood and seeks information to prevent and treat health problems such as autism, birth defects, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

The National Children's Study will specifically examine the effects of various environmental influences on the health and development of 100,000 children across the United States, following them from before birth until age 21. The study broadly defines environment and will consider several issues, such as

  • natural and man-made environmental factors;
  • biological and chemical factors;
  • physical surroundings;
  • social factors;
  • behavioral influences and outcomes;
  • genetics;
  • cultural and family influences and differences; and
  • geographic locations.

Congress authorized the National Children's Study with the passage of the Children's Health Act of 2000. In addition to NICHD, a consortium, including CDC, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is leading the study.

Pilot Study

For at least three decades, scientists within DLS have been determining which environmental chemicals people have been exposed to and the amount of those chemicals in their bodies. This technique is known as biomonitoring. Biomonitoring measurements are the most health-relevant assessments of exposure because they measure the amount of chemicals that actually enter people's bodies, not the amount that may enter.

Currently, research conducted by DLS and published in CDC's National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, provides biomonitoring data for chemicals in urine only for children aged 6 years and older. For chemicals in blood or serum only, data are available for children aged 12 years and older, with the exceptions of lead, cadmium, mercury (age 1 year and older), and cotinine (age 3 years and older). DLS found that the concentrations of many of these chemicals were highest in the youngest age groups that were examined. For children age 5 years and younger, minimal information exists on exposure to priority environmental chemicals, and this lack of information is a major gap in protecting children from harmful exposures.

DLS will lend its analytical and biomonitoring expertise to a pilot study for the National Children's Study. Scientists will analyze samples of blood, breast milk, and urine from 525 pregnant mothers and from their infants after birth for more than 100 environmental chemicals and nutritional indicators. Samples will be collected from seven study centers, also known as vanguard centers, established by NICHD. The data from this pilot study will provide important exposure information on young children. Vanguard centers are currently recruiting and enrolling participants. Sample collection began in summer 2009.

For More Information...


(2012). National Children's Study. Retrieved from's_Study