May 10, 2012 — Under recently announced changes in the federal contract for The National Children’s Study (NCS), The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and six other sites across the U.S. will no longer be affiliated with the NCS as of September 2012. The NCS, launched locally in Montgomery County, PA, in 2009, is part of the first and largest long-term study of children’s health ever conducted in the U.S. The Study’s goal is to track the health and development of children from before birth through age 21.
Children’s Hospital has spent the past seven years preparing for and implementing the NCS in Montgomery County, one of the original seven Vanguard sites of the NCS.
Many childhood diseases and unhealthy conditions have been on the rise over the past two decades and contribute to pediatric illnesses. The National Children’s Study was created by Congress in the Children’s Health Act of 2000 to address these concerns.
Success of the study in Montgomery County to date
“Community participation has made the project tremendously successful. To date, almost 300 Montgomery County women have agreed to participate in the NCS and almost 200 children have been born,” said Jennifer Culhane, PhD, MPH, from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and principal investigator of the Montgomery County site.
“We extend our deepest appreciation and thanks to all our partners: the Montgomery County Health Department, more than 30 hospitals in seven counties delivering babies in the NCS, maternal-child health physicians and nurses, healthcare professionals, community leaders and organizations, and especially the Study participants and children."
Recruitment to shift to obstetrical providers
In late February, all seven original Vanguard Centers were notified by the National Institutes of Health that contracts would not be renewed. This was not the result of lack of performance by the Vanguard Centers but rather a change in the method of participant recruitment.
Unlike the door-to-door recruitment conducted by the original Vanguard Centers, recruitment of women through obstetrical providers that participate in large health plans is being considered by the NIH.
Effective September 3, 2012, Research Triangle Institute, a national research consulting firm, will be responsible for following the current Montgomery County participants.
Future impact on other Vanguard sites and patient follow up uncertain
While this change currently affects only the original seven Vanguard Centers, it is likely that the 30 other Vanguard sites will undergo the same change in the future, which would include the Children’s Hospital study site in Schuylkill County, PA.
The fate of the NCS remains unclear as the number of sites participating in the study could decrease dramatically from the original 105 counties. It is also uncertain if CHOP will have the opportunity to follow Montgomery County participants in the future.
Joey McCool Ryan, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, 267-426-6070, firstname.lastname@example.org