The CHILD Study originally aimed to follow the health outcomes of its child participants to the age of five. The Study is now close to fulfilling that mandate: the last of the children in the study cohort will turn five years old in October 2017.
As with its young subjects, however, it seems the life of CHILD is just beginning.
The value of its findings to date, which show how critical early-life events are to long-term health; the strength of its committed participants and its well-functioning infrastructure; and the unique features of its research design, all point to the importance of keeping the study going.
To determine the longer-term impacts of early-life exposures, CHILD researchers now plan to follow their subjects through to post-puberty, with clinical assessments at ages 8-9, 11-12 and 14-15 years of age.
The team also plans to expand the clinical focus of the study beyond allergy and asthma to include other chronic diseases, like diabetes and obesity, and to track the neurodevelopment of its participants.
In line with these new goals, new scientific working groups are being formed and new scientists with appropriate expertise are being recruited into the study’s ranks.
“Continuation of CHILD provides an opportunity to look at development throughout the life course, examining outcomes such as chronic obstructive disease, cardiovascular and metabolic disorders,” observes the study’s Director, Dr. Malcolm Sears.
“This is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss.”
Why should CHILD continue beyond five years?
- CHILD is the largest population-based hands-on longitudinal birth cohort study in Canada.
- CHILD is not only a multi-centered national study, but is networked with other Canadian and international studies.
- CHILD has collected broad environmental data including indoor and outdoor exposures and household behaviours, strengthened by having a physical home assessment in early childhood not present in other cohorts.
- CHILD has good retention rates and participants have demonstrated strong commitment to the study.
- The children are well phenotyped, allowing researchers to identify chronic illness early in life.
- CHILD can address questions that cannot be easily answered by other cohorts because of its extensive and detailed data collection, and the availability of some biological samples not available in other studies.