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ACHRI & UAMS Researchers Begin Enrollment for National Children's Study

Benton County, Ark. (Oct. 19, 2010) - Starting in November, some expectant mothers and their families will have the opportunity to partner with Arkansas Children's Hospital Research Institute (ACHRI) and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) to have a major impact on the health of future generations by enrolling in the National Children's Study (NCS), the largest long-term study of children's health ever conducted in the United States. The National Children's Study is a mandate of the Children's Health Act of 2000, and it will follow 100,000 children from before birth through age 21 to study how environmental and genetic factors affect their health, development and well being. 

The Benton County site is one of 105 counties selected throughout 40 states to participate. Each study location was selected to provide geographic and demographic diversity, representative of the United States as a whole. ACHRI expects to enroll 1,000 women into the study during the next four years.

"This is something that Benton County can certainly be proud of," said Charlotte Hobbs, MD, PhD, director of the Arkansas Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention at ACHRI and professor of Pediatrics in the UAMS College of Medicine. "They'll be participating in a national study that will be a legacy for their children and grandchildren."

Dr. Hobbs leads the NCS's Benton County location as principal investigator, and Jim Robbins, PhD, also a professor of Pediatrics in the UAMS College of Medicine, serves as the lead local investigator. Additional investigators for the study include:  Peter Kohler, MD, vice chancellor for UAMS Northwest Arkansas Region; Curtis Lowery, MD, chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UAMS; and Kathleen Barta, EdD, RN. The Benton County team for the NCS is lead by program administrator Pearl McElfish. Additional team members include: medical relations manager Rosie Harris; field staff/data collector Amy McCoy; budget specialist Dale Cox; research assistant Trace Henley; and administrative assistant Linda Smith.  The Benton County team will add additional staff over the next three years.

"We are very excited about bringing together the research team at ACHRI and the partnering physicians and hospitals in Northwest Arkansas to make a contribution to this ground-breaking study," said Hobbs.  

ACHRI recruitment efforts for the National Children's Study will be in a provider-based strategy, one of three pilot programs being conducted in the initial study. The provider-based strategy will collaborate with 26 physicians and practitioners affiliated with six providers at 10 locations throughout Benton County: Siloam Springs Women's Center, Mercy Health System of Northwest Arkansas, Lifespring Women's Clinic, Pinnacle Women's Health Care, Inc., Parkhill The Clinic for Women, and Community Clinics of Northwest Arkansas. Participating hospitals currently include Mercy Health System of Northwest Arkansas and Northwest Medical System. Recruitment and eligibility will be initiated through the participating providers' offices.

Participant eligibility is limited to women ages 18-49 who reside in pre-determined segments of Benton County and who are either currently pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Registered nurses will conduct the data collection efforts, which will include in-home visits, telephone surveys, questionnaires and medical history. Participation in the study is voluntary and participants will receive modest reimbursement for their time.

"The study will collect a range of environmental elements-such as air, soil and water-where the children live, learn, and play. No other study has used the scope, size and duration to look at how a wide range of environmental exposures might impact children's health," said Dr. Robbins.

National Institutes of Health awarded the $14.4 million contract to ACHRI to facilitate the study in its newly established Benton County site located in Rogers, Ark. The NCS is lead by a consortium of federal agencies, including the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"These agencies will work together as an integrated team on this unprecedented study," Hobbs said. "We will complement each other with our various strengths so that we can all learn more about the many biological and environmental factors that are at play. These have a tremendous impact on children, but they also go on to affect us into adulthood."

ACHRI will host community information meetings prior to beginning enrollment. Upcoming meetings include: October 27, 10:30 a.m., at Mercy Medical Center in Rogers; November 3, 10:30 a.m., at Northwest Medical System in Bentonville; and November 3, 2:00 p.m., at the Boys & Girls Club of Western Benton County in Siloam Springs. These meetings are free and open to the public.

For more information or to determine eligibility for enrollment, email Pearl McElfish at pamcelfish@uams.edu, or visit www.nationalchildrensstudy.gov.

About ACHRI

Arkansas Children's Hospital Research Institute (ACHRI) is a collaboration between the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) and the Arkansas Children's Hospital (ACH). ACHRI provides a research environment on the ACH campus research scientists at ACHRI conduct clinical, science and health services research for the purpose of treating illnesses, preventing disease and improving the health of children everywhere.

About Arkansas Children's Hospital

Arkansas Children's Hospital is the only pediatric medical center in Arkansas and one of the largest in the United States serving children. The campus spans 29 city blocks and houses 316 beds, a staff of approximately 500 physicians, 80 residents in pediatrics and pediatric specialties and more than 4,200 employees. The private, nonprofit healthcare facility boasts an internationally renowned reputation for medical breakthroughs and intensive treatments, unique surgical procedures and forward-thinking medical research - all dedicated to fulfilling our mission of enhancing, sustaining and restoring children's health and development.ACH is ranked 85th on the 2010 FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For®. For more information, visit www.archildrens.org .

About UAMS

UAMS is the state's only comprehensive academic health center, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Related Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a 540,000-square-foot hospital; a statewide network of regional centers; and six institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute and the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging. It is the state's only Level 1 trauma center. UAMS has 2,836 students and 761 medical residents. It is the state's largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including nearly 1,150 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children's Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS' Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. Visit www.uams.edu or www.uamshealth.com .


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