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ACHRI & UAMS Researchers Host First Community Information Meeting for National Children’s Study

Benton County, Ark. (Oct. 28, 2010) - Researchers and staff for the National Children's Study's Benton County location have joined with Mercy Health System of Northwest Arkansas to host the first of several informational meetings to educate the community about the study.

More than two dozen people attended the initial meeting. Information provided included a background of the study, Benton County's role in the process, and how participants are anticipated to be selected. The research panel for the meeting included principal investigator Charlotte Hobbs, MD, PhD; Peter Kohler, MD, vice chancellor for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Northwest Arkansas Region; Kathleen Barta, Ed, RN; program director Veronica Smith; program administrator Pearl McElfish; and Mercy Health System of Northwest Arkansas physician advocate A.R. Addington, MD.

Dr. Hobbs, who is also director of the Arkansas Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention at the Arkansas Children's Hospital Research Institute and professor of Pediatrics in the UAMS College of Medicine, stated that "better information is needed" to understand how genetics and the environment interact to affect the health and well-being of children. Dr. Hobbs continued saying "children aren't just little adults," so the environmental effects have a greater impact on their vulnerable systems. Researchers hope to learn more about the interaction of biological, genetic and environmental factors through the information to be gathered in the study.

Increasing rates of childhood illnesses and disease in recent years prompted the study. Dr. Hobbs stated only 20-30 percent of birth defects have known causes. In addition, prevalence of asthma, autism spectrum disorders, obesity, injury, and neurodevelopmental disorders, have led researchers to feel additional study is essential to identify potential environmental causes of childhood diseases and illnesses. The economic cost of these types of illnesses per year is more than $758 billion.

"The National Children's Study will provide evidence-based information that can help shape future health policies and will provide a rich resource of information for future research," said Hobbs. "Most importantly, it will allow us to understand protective factors so that we can improve children's health, development and well-being."

The National Children's Study is the largest comprehensive study of children's health and development ever conducted in the United States. It is unique in size, scope and duration. The goal is to enroll 100,000 women, following the enrolled child from before birth through age 21; from 105 counties in 40 states throughout the country.

Participant eligibility is limited to women ages 18-49 who live in pre-determined areas 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 Benton County study center is now located at the J.B. Hunt Tower in Rogers, Ark. The project site is fully funded through a National Institutes of Health grant awarded to Arkansas Children's Hospital Research Institute. The National Children's Study is made possible through a consortium of federal agencies collaborating to achieve the scope anticipated for the study, including the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, United States Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Two additional community information meetings are currently scheduled for Wednesday, November 3 at 10:30 a.m. at Northwest Medical Center-Bentonville in classrooms A and B; and the Boys & Girls Club of Western Benton County-Siloam Springs Unit will host a meeting at 2 p.m. in the gymnasium.

For more information, or to determine eligibility for enrollment, e-mail 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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