2009-01-30 / Community

Rockaway Will Participate In A National Children's Health Study

By Miriam Rosenberg

Beginning this month, Rockaway will be taking part in a major federal children's health study that will span two decades and will be the largest such study in the country's history.

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall announced the start of the $3 billion National Children's Health Study, which will focus on how children's genetics and environment affect their health and development, during her State of the Borough Address on January 13.

"I am happy to announce that the National Children's Health Study, the largest long-term study of health in the United States, begins today in Queens - the first of 105 sites across the nation," said Marshall. "Our borough was chosen because of our diverse population [and] top medical institutions will lead the study."

The Queens Vanguard Center, led by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, will conduct the study in Queens and is one of seven initial locations across the country taking part in the study. Among those institutions in the borough that will participate is the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center in Arverne.

"The Joseph Addabbo Health Center has been one of the initial community partners since 2005," said Megan Burke of CooperKatz, spokesperson for the National Children's Study, in an email. "The Community Outreach Coordinator for the study and her team have been working with Dr. J.R. Peter Nelson, Executive Director and Zandra Meyers, Director of Government Affairs. They were instrumental in helping to organize the local Community Advisory Board in Far Rockaway, which is comprised of community leaders and advocates, dedicated to discussing ways for building study awareness and engaging the Far Rockaway community in the National Children's Study.

"As we move into the implementation of the National Children's Study, the coordinators hope to continue their partnership with the Joseph Addabbo Health Center and possibly have the Joseph Addabbo Health Center be a clinic site for study partipants."

According to a press release researchers will investigate whether "the air children breathe, the communities in which they live and the food they eat are contributing to a rise in health problems such as birth defects, asthma, obesity, diabetes and learning disabilities."

Dr. Phillip J. Landrigan, the principal investigator for the study, spoke about its importance.

"With the rising incidence of many childhood diseases and health conditions, the Children's Health Study has the potential to answer vital questions that doctors, researchers and parents have been asking for decades," said Landrigan, who is also the chair of the Department of Community and Medicine of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

Outcomes of the study will provide information needed to develop new prevention strategies, health guidelines and disease treatments.

The study will track children from birth to age 21. Researchers will also observe women before and during pregnancy.

Over the next few months, field teams will canvas the borough attempting to recruit 5,000 women between the ages of 18 and 49. The goal is to eventually include more than 100,000 children and 100 local communities throughout the country. Participants will receive benefits such as a monetary compensation for completed study visits, referrals if medical problems are detected during a study visit and assistance for mothers who want to get health insurance for their children.

The Queens Vanguard Center is one of seven initial locations across the country taking part in the study. The center, located in Long Island City, includes several medical, academic, governmental and community partners in New York and New Jersey. In addition to the Addabbo Family Health Center and the Queens Borough President's office, some other partners are the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Columbia University and the Queens Health Coalition.

To participate in the National Children's Study call 877-782-6965 or visit www.nationalchildrensstudy.gov for more information.

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