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April 2, 2014

Baldwin County welcomes NCS field office

MILLEDGEVILLE — The National Children’s Study (NCS), the largest long-term study of children’s health ever conducted in the country, has officially opened a field office in Baldwin County for area data collection.

A ribbon cutting hosted by the Milledgeville-Baldwin County Chamber took place Tuesday or the opening of the new field office. Community members gathered at 105 Fieldstone Drive to meet the NCS South Region staff and tour the facility.

In spring 2011, Emory University joined a national effort to increase understanding of children’s health and development by participating in the NCS.  

The goal of the study is to improve the health and well-being of children by understanding various factors that contribute to their health. The NCS will examine the effects of environment on the growth, development and health of children across the United States. Factors such as clean water access, diet, sound, family dynamics, community, cultural influences and genetics will be tracked and examined from before birth until participants are 21.

“We are collecting information that will not only benefit children today, but will help us understand why there’s such an increase in diseases in children for future generations,” said NCA South Region representative Sherry Lloyd.

Baldwin County is one of 105 counties in the United States chosen to take part in the study.

The study will take place in two phases: the Vanguard Study and the Main Study.

“We’re in the Vanguard study phase right now,” said Lloyd. “It’s similar to a pilot study. Right now we’re testing methods of data collection to see which ones work the best for retention results to be used in the main study.”

The Vanguard Study is currently taking place in 40 locations, 10 sites in each of the four regions across the nation.

The NCS South Region is led by a team from Northwestern University in Chicago, Ill., Focus Pointe Global in St. Louis, Mo. and the Universtiy of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, Ark. The South Region includes Baldwin County; Baker County, Florida; Benton County, Arizona; Bexar County, Texas; Davidson County, Tennessee; Hinds County, Mississippi; Harris County, Texas; Lamar County, Texas; Orleans Parish, Louisiana; and Valencia County, New Mexico.

Study groups were broken into four regions — North, South, East and West, to better manage incoming data, said Lloyd.

“Collecting data and keeping up with four different budgets is much easier for the government to track as oppose to keeping tabs on over a hundred separate sites around the country.”

Also included with the field office is an NCS South Region Data Collection Mobile Van. Baldwin County is one of four locations out of the 40 that has received the Ford transit mobile van.

“Some people may not be able to come to the field office for measurements or to give samples. This way we can bring the study to the participants when the participants can’t come to the study,” said Lloyd.

She added that their main objective is to make the mothers and children feel comfortable and not pressured. Every aspect of participating in the study is voluntary, and participants are not forced to provide information.

The mobile van will be used to process and store biological samples and is equipped with state of the art equipment for proper storage and freezing of specimen.

The Baldwin County NCS South Region field office is located at 105 Fieldstone Drive, Suite 105. The South Region team will be on site and available for questions throughout this week. The next scheduled visit where measurements will be taken of the children after 36 months will be announced at a later date. Until then, Lloyd said the team plans to make an effort to organize events to inform residents about NCS and how participants are playing a major role in an important study.

 “We want to try and do one or two events per year where we participate with the community and share the importance of the children’s study with everyone.”

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