We know kids inherit risk factors for things like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. But scientists know very little about the triggers that kick-start those illnesses.
Now, the government is about to launch the largest, most expensive, long-range study of kids yet, a $2.5 billion project that will follow 100,000 kids for an unprecedented 21 years.
Even before the kids are born, researchers will begin by looking at any chemicals or medications taken during pregnancy. Then later, it will follow these children through adulthood, more than two decades. That's just phase one of this effort.
Pediatric cardiologist Edward Clark says that this study is an extraordinary partnership between the national institutes of health, the CDC and the Environmental Protection Agency to finally come to an understanding of how environment interacts with genetics and produces health or disease. One of the things they are talking about in this study is having a mother wear a GPS device so that researchers will know where her location is to be able to correlate the kinds of things she might be exposed to in the environment.
Enrollment for this monumental 21 year study is expected to begin sometime next year.