National Children’s health study seeks clues to childhood asthma

During the month of May, asthma and allergies bother many Waukesha County children. Local families often visit doctors’ offices looking for answers. “While the exact cause of asthma is not known, we do know that asthma occurs more frequently in children who have had certain early childhood viral infections, in those predisposed to develop allergies, and in those whose parents have asthma” says Monica Vasudev, MD, Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology at The Medical College of Wisconsin. Dr. Vasudev practices at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

One thing physicians can’t explain is why some children get asthma and allergies, and why others don’t.
Someday, information gathered from families in Waukesha County may help researchers answer that question.

The National Children’s Study is collecting information about how our environment might be linked to increasing rates of childhood asthma and about other childhood health issues. It is a unique research project that will follow 100,000 children nationwide from before they are born until they turn 21.

Locally, the Waukesha County Study Center has been enrolling participants in the research program since April 2009. More than 180 families from Waukesha County have volunteered to participate so far. The Waukesha County NCS continues to enroll eligible participants as the Study expands nationwide.

Local Study to Use Facebook to Raise Awareness
In May, the local Study center will be reaching out to Waukesha County families who are concerned about allergies and asthma, with a goal of building grassroots interest.

“We know many families are concerned about children’s health. Even if you’re not a participant in the study, you can still be part of supporting the research by ‘liking’ our Facebook page, says Katie Miller, Community Outreach Director for the local Study center. “Social media is the new ‘back fence’, and can help friends and neighbors spread the word about the importance of the study.”

How to Get Involved in the National Children’s Study.
Women and their families can have a significant impact on the success of the study as:

• Interested community members: Join the conversation by finding the National Children’s Study – Waukesha County on Facebook

• Participants: Women of childbearing age who live in some areas of Waukesha County and become pregnant may be eligible to participate in the Study. Contact our Study Office for more information and to find out if you are eligible.

• Volunteers: There are many volunteer opportunities available with the Study. See our Volunteer Opportunities for more details.

To learn more, visit or call 877-253-2809 or 262-798-0002.

About the National Children’s Study

The National Children’s Study is the largest long-term study ever conducted in the United States on how the environment and genes affect children’s health. It will follow 100,000 children from before they are born until they turn 21. Study researchers hope to better understand how children’s genes and their environments work together to affect their health and development. In the Study, “environment” means things such as: air, water, and house dust; what children eat; how they are cared for; the safety of their neighborhoods; and how often they see a doctor.

The Study will look at important health issues like birth defects and pregnancy-related problems; injuries; asthma; obesity; diabetes; and behavior, learning, and mental health disorders to find links between children’s environments and their health. By studying children over different parts of their lives, the Study hopes to find the causes of many childhood and adult diseases. Findings from the Study will help all Americans by giving researchers, health care providers, and public health officials information to develop prevention strategies, health and safety guidelines, and possibly new treatments and cures for disease.

By tracking children’s health and development from conception through infancy, childhood, and early adulthood, the Study hopes to determine what makes children healthy and to better explain how the environment can impact children’s ability to grow into healthy adults.

The Study is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency. Within Waukesha County, the Study is being conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Medical College of Wisconsin, in collaboration with the Children’s Service Society of Wisconsin and the National Opinion Research Center. The Co-Principal Investigators are Dr. Maureen Durkin, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Dr. Steven Leuthner, Medical College of Wisconsin. For more information about the National Children’s Study, visit