Archives for the day of: January 25, 2011


Families in 16 Ramsey County neighborhoods have begun receiving letters urging them to take part in the largest and longest study of children’s health ever conducted in the United States.

The National Children’s Study will look at what factors contribute to autism, asthma, attention deficit disorder and other serious childhood ailments.

105 counties nationwide were selected to participate in the study. Ramsey County was chosen because of the diverse background of its residents.

More than 100,000 U.S. kids, including 1,000 from Ramsey County, will be recruited for the study. Researchers will examine how air quality, food, neighborhoods and family history affect kids’ health.

“In the last two decades we’ve been seeing increasing prevalence of certain conditions, like autism, like diabetes, like obesity in kids,” said University of Minnesota public health professor Pat McGovern, who also is the project’s lead investigator in Ramsey County. “And what scientists think — but they’ve never really had enough kids followed long enough to figure out — is, is that a gene/environment interaction?”

It will be years before scientists gather enough data to test their genetic and environmental theories. In the meantime, their most challenging task will be recruiting enough pregnant women to join the study and stick with it for 21 years following the birth of their babies.

In addition to the letters that are being sent to 32,000 households in Ramsey County, study organizers are attending community baby showers and health fairs to spread the word about the study.

At a recent event with 15 representatives from schools, social service and health agencies, Deb Hendricks, Director of Community engagement for the Ramsey County study, explains the project.

“What we are really doing is looking at where children live, where they play, where they go to school, where they spend their time, how they spend their time, what they eat to see what we can find out over the long-term about children’s health,” she tells her audience.

More . . .

From the Documentary Website:

A Chemical Reaction, is a 70 minute feature documentary movie that tells the story of one of the most powerful and effective community initiatives in the history of North America.  It started with one lone voice in 1984.  Dr. June Irwin, a dermatologist, noticed a connection between her patients’ health conditions and their exposure to chemical pesticides and herbicides.  With relentless persistence she brought her concerns to town meetings to warn her fellow citizens that the chemicals they were putting on their lawns posed severe health risks and had unknown side effects on the environment.

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