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National Children's Study

The National Children’s Study examined environmental influences on children’s health and development. The goal of the Study was to improve the health and well-being of children and help understand the role various environmental factors have on health and disease. The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) was tasked by Congress to design and lead this research project.

CDC’s Division of Laboratory Sciences conducted the measurements for one of the pilot studies. Scientists analyze samples of blood, breast milk, and urine from 525 pregnant mothers and their infants for more than 100 environmental chemicals and nutritional indicators. The data from this study provided important environmental exposure information on pregnant women and young children. The environmental chemicals used for the pilot study and subsequent studies were a subset of those measured in older children and adults for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and reported in the Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals.

CDC’s Division of Laboratory Sciences led or co-authored publications describing some of the results of the pilot study; in particular, iodine status; thyroid indicators and perchlorate exposure; and measurements of environmental phenols; mercury; and volatile organic chemicals (VOCs). References for the publications are provided below:

Mortensen ME, Hirschfeld S. The National Children’s Study. An opportunity for medical toxicology. J Med Toxicol 8(2):160-5, 2012.

Caldwell KL, Pan Y, Mortensen ME, Makhmudov A, Merrill L, Moye, J. Iodine status in pregnant women in the National Children’s Study and in U.S. women (15-44 years), National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2010. Thyroid 23(8):927-37, 2013.

Mortensen ME, Calafat AM, Ye X, Wong LY, Wright DJ, Pirkle JL, et al. Urinary concentrations of environmental phenols in pregnant women in a pilot study of the National Children’s Study. Environ Res 129:23-8, 2014.

Bakulski KM, Lee H-J, Feinberg JI, Wells EM, Brown S, Herbstman, Witter FR, Halden RU, Caldwell K, Mortensen ME, et al. Prenatal mercury concentration is associated with changes in DNA methylation at TCEANC2 in newborns. Int J Epidemiol 44(4):1249-62, 2015.

Boyle EB, Viet SM, Wright DJ, Merrill LS, Alwis KU, Blount BC, Mortensen ME, Moye J Jr, Dellarco M. Assessment of exposure to VOCs among pregnant women in the National Children’s Study. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2016;12:376-392. doi:10.3390/ijerph13040376.

Mortensen ME, Birch R, Wong LY, Valentin-Blasini L, Boyle EB, Merrill LS, Caldwell KL, Moye J, Blount BC. Thyroid antagonists and thyroid indicators in U.S. pregnant women in the Vanguard Study of the National Children’s Study. Environ Res 2016; 149:179-88.

For More Information

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NIH)
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