Burke County, N.C. added to landmark National Children's Study: UNC directs the study in N.C.

Oct 3, 2008

News Release

Friday, October 3, 2008

CHAPEL HILL - Burke County, N.C. will be added to the National Children's Study, a multi-million dollar, decades-long project which focuses on the health and well-being of children throughout the United States. Burke County is one of 105 counties in the United States selected to participate in the study.

The National Children's Study researches the effects of social, behavioral, biological, community, and environmental factors on human health and development. It is the largest longitudinal study of its kind ever to be conducted in the United States.

The project will ultimately track 100,000 children in the United States from before birth through the age of 21 to explore causes of health problems such as obesity, injuries, heart disease, asthma and developmental delays.

David Rust, Burke County's Health Director, said "We are extremely excited that Burke County has been chosen to participate in this effort. The staff of the Burke County Health Department and I look forward to being a partner in this important work."

A vital part of the study includes outreach to community members including those in the health, education, faith, and government sectors. "Burke County contains a large cross section of varying lifestyles, representing both rural and urban issues," said Rust. "The National Children's Study will be able to assess the interaction of many factors relating to the health of our children. This will be an opportunity to gather baseline data which has never been available before. We will have a better understanding on where to place our resources to have the most positive outcomes."

The Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will direct the work in Burke County. Four other counties in North Carolina are part of the study: Duplin and Cumberland counties in the southeastern part of the state and Durham and Rockingham counties in central North Carolina. The Carolina Population Center leads the study in these counties as well, under the direction of Barbara Entwisle, Ph.D., director of the center and Kenan Professor of Sociology at UNC.

Project partners include Duke University, Battelle Memorial Institute, and McMillan & Moss Research. The principal investigators for Burke County are Allan Parnell, Ph.D., president of McMillan & Moss Research and Jane Costello, Ph.D., an epidemiologist at the Center for Developmental Epidemiology at Duke University Medical Center.

Costello has been studying the development of children in western North Carolina for two decades. "Studies like this one in Burke County are incredibly important if we as a nation are to understand how to sustain and improve the health and wellbeing of all our children," she said.

"In our efforts to get to know the County, we have already had the opportunity to meet quite a few of Burke's citizens," Parnell said, "and they have been as friendly and helpful as I was led to expect. Over the next year we will be learning about Burke County from members of the community and laying the groundwork for launching the data collection in 2010."

The National Children's Study is a collaboration of several federal agencies: The National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

For more about the National Children's Study Project: http://www.cpc.unc.edu/ncs or http://www.nationalchildrensstudy.gov


David Rust can be reached at (828) 439-4400 or david.rust@ncmail.net. He is not available for comment on Friday, Oct. 3.
Jane Costello can be reached at (919) 687-4686 ext. 230 or
Allan Parnell can be reached at (919) 563-5899 or
mcmoss@mindspring.com. He is not available for comment until Tuesday, Oct. 7.

Carolina Population Center contact: Lori Delaney, (919) 966-4562, lori_delaney@unc.edu

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