Largest ever women and children’s health study focuses on Latinos

By Christina E. Rodriguez

The National Children’s Study launched last November in Cook County; one of about 100 counties in the United States selected to take part in the largest, longest study on women and children’s health to date. The NCS was designed to be the forefront of children’s health, looking at 100,000 children’s environment, food and culture for the duration of the study, claiming to also collect specimens at birth as well as blood and hair over time. The study will begin before birth and last until the children are 21.

Roger Knight, the Community Outreach Liaison for the National Children’s Study Greater Chicago Study Center, says that there are still a lot of questions that need to be answered when it comes to children’s health like, what leads to food allergies in children? Why are some children diagnosed with ADHD? Why are children diagnosed with asthma?

“We still have many questions about childhood health conditions,” he says. “Children are healthier than before but there are still particular illnesses on the rise.” Federal agencies contracted universities to conduct the study locally. Knight, a sociologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, found this study furthered his own education into the community that he had been studying for years. “I have a background in research and I wanted to go out and talk to people to tell them this is a way to have a voice,” he says.

His priority in this study is the Latino community, working with organizations, community centers and churches in Cicero, Alsip and Little Village. These locations and Cook County in particular, were chosen based on birth rate, socio-economic status, family composition and racial backgrounds. Cook County is one of the most diverse counties in the country, says Knight.

With Cook County being 25 percent Latino, the study is in search of 500 Latinas to partake in this nationwide study, the first to take place in the United States. The National Health Act was approved by Congress in 2000, giving the opportunity to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institute of Health in collaboration with other federal partners including the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the NIH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency to take on the task of following children for 21 years, conducting family assessments and cognitive development surveys.

“This is [a woman’s] chance to do something to benefit their child, their community and country,” says Knight. “They will help something bigger than themselves.”

Latino families have been worried about being part of this study, fearing that their information will be given directly to the government. This is not true, says Knight. “We’re working locally and not part of the government,” says Knight. “All information is private and confidential and families will never be asked about immigration status.” Families will be expected to answer questions and participate in assessments two to three times a year with compensation anywhere between $25 and $100 with at least one home visit.

Knight has been out to at least 50 organizations in Cicero, accepting many volunteers to not only offer up their time and participate with their children, but also as advocates for this opportunity. Community and health organizations are signing agreements to help spread the word. “We’re hoping to get the word out and get people excited,” says Knight, who has been attending events to find ways to educate people about this opportunity. “Studies like this can eventually have a major impact in children’s health here in the county and country.”

To find out if you are eligible, call 1-866-315-7124 or text “ncsmom” to 57682. More info is also at: http://greaterchicago.nationalchildrensstudy.gov

Originally published by Extra Bilingual Newspaper

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