Next year will mark a milestone in the health of the nation's children, and the effort to protect them from the dangers of toxic chemicals in the environment.
The National Children's Health Study is on track to begin in 2009. The massive $3.2 billion study will track 100,000 U.S. children from birth to age 21.
In the process, it will develop the best set of data ever assembled about what causes disease, answering controversial questions about the origins of autism, diabetes, cancer and other significant health problems that keep parents up worrying at night about everything from nutrition to the toxicity of household cleaners.
The study is a milestone effort in the nation's ability to understand the effects of chemicals on children. For years, it was assumed where the regulation of chemicals was concerned that children were no more than small adults. But scientific studies not to mention common sense have shown that children are uniquely susceptible to damage from toxic substances and endocrine-disrupting chemicals. They are not only exposed to more because they breathe and drink more of a chemical per body weight, but they are in closer proximity to many potential environmental hazards at ground level. Additionally, their growing organs are susceptible to damage at critical times in their development.
Researchers have fought off political challenges that have sought to undermine funding and support for the study before, and those challenges remain. Concerned citizens should be aware of this study, and make sure their representatives who have to approve funding for the program every year fight to maintain support throughout the long years of the study.
The value of the study's results will be measured in the health and longevity of our children.
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