WCCO-TV’s Holly Wagner Reports
ST. PAUL (WCCO) — Hundreds of Ramsey County residents have a chance to participate in the nation’s largest and longest study in U.S. history.
“It’s really an exciting opportunity for our county,” said Pat McGovern, principal investigator of the study in Minnesota.
Ramsey County is among 105 other counties chosen to participate in the study because of its diverse residents.
The study is searching for hundreds of women between 18 and 49 years of age who are pregnant or will become pregnant.
Researchers are examining children’s health by looking at their environment, family history and the food children eat.
“The purpose of this study is to look at family history and genetics,” said McGovern.
They want to see what attributes to asthma, autism, pregnancy problems, attention deficit disorder and more.
Researchers will follow subjects all the way from pre-pregnancy, to birth, until the age of 21.
“There are different phases of the study and there are 30 study centers nationwide. One is the University of Minnesota working with Ramsey County and we’ll be enrolling somewhere between 100 to 300 mothers,” said McGovern.
Majority of the women enrolled into the multi-billion dollar study will be pregnant.
“One out of three women will have the opportunity to participate in a more intense study which includes collection of biological specimens like urine and blood. Also some environmental samples from homes and tap water will be taken,” said McGovern.
The University of Minnesota will receive $14 million over five years from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
Researchers sent out 32,000 letters to households in 16 neighborhoods in Ramsey County. The neighborhoods were randomly selected.
“We’ll be taking questionnaire data on their past medical history and their partner’s medical history as it relates to the child,” said McGovern.
There are incentives for people who participate. For a 30-minute phone interview or a questionnaire they’ll receive $25. For home visits where researchers collect biological or environmental samples, subjects could get paid up to $100.
“Ultimately, I think the reason families might choose to participate is because we hope people will feel a point of pride that Ramsey County was selected to be in this incredibly important study,” said McGovern.
Researchers believe the information will help guide prevention, treatment and child health policy for decades to come.
McGovern said the program was delayed for one year because there was a change in administration. Preparation for the program started again in January of 2009.
Once researchers have their subjects in place the study could launch in April 2012.
An announcement about the study will take place Monday at the Wilder Center in St. Paul.
Click here for more on the National Children’s Study.