Assessing Health of Shelby County Babies

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Researchers at the UTHSC Department of Preventive Medicine are looking for pregnant women to participate in a research study of development and learning in babies from birth to three years of age.

Researchers at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center Department of Preventive Medicine are looking for pregnant women to participate in a research study of development and learning in babies from birth to three years of age. Eligible participants for the CANDLE Research Study (Conditions Affecting Neurocognitive Development and Learning in Early Childhood) are: (1) up to 29 weeks (7 months) pregnant; (2) having a normal pregnancy and (3) living in Shelby County, Tennessee. A total of 1,500 women and their babies will participate in CANDLE.

Sponsored by The Urban Child Institute and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, CANDLE is being conducted by the Department of Preventive Medicine in conjunction with Methodist LeBonheur Germantown Hospital, the Regional Medical Center and local obstetrical practices.

The CANDLE study is being undertaken because Shelby County faces a number of obstacles concerning healthy birth and development of its children. The percentage of mothers with late or no prenatal care in Shelby County is twice that of the national rate (8 percent vs. 4 percent). According to the March of Dimes, the rate of premature and low-birth weight babies is 4 percent higher than the national average, and the infant mortality rate is 3 percent higher than the national average.

Additionally, several studies conducted over the past few decades have provided evidence that genetics, cultural and family influences, physical surroundings, and factors including biological, chemical, and man-made environmental substances are associated with birth weight and cognitive development in our children. (Profile of Selected Cities; Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2003).

Representative and comprehensive data are needed to evaluate children’s experiences during the critical years before school attendance and to influence policy and interventions that will improve their overall development and ability to learn.

In response to this need and the high-risk indicators of poor health and well-being that children in Shelby County face, CANDLE will study factors influencing the cognitive development of infants. Some of these factors include: maternal psycho-social factors, the effect of environmental toxins, pre-natal and baby nutrition factors, and the baby’s environment.

The study will follow the mother and her baby from birth to three years of age. Reimbursement will be provided for participation in the study, which requires a total of eight visits over the three-year duration of the study. Call 448-8400 or visit the CANDLE website (www.candlestudy.org) for information about how to participate in this important research study.

Principal Investigators for CANDLE are Grant W. Somes, PhD, professor and chair, Department of Preventive Medicine, and Owen Phillips, MD, professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Regional Medical Center. Co-investigators are Pam Connor, PhD; Rongling Li, MD, PhD; Fred Palmer, MD; Risa Ramsey, PhD, MBA, RN, CCRC; Phyllis Richey, PhD; Fran Tylavsky, DrPH; Charles R. Handorf, MD, PhD; Anand L. Kulkarni, MD.

As the flagship statewide academic health system, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center is focused on a four-tier mission of education, research, clinical care and public service, all in support of a single goal: to improve the health of Tennesseans. Offering a broad range of postgraduate training opportunities, the main campus is located in Memphis and includes six colleges: Allied Health Sciences, Dentistry, Graduate Health Sciences, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. UTHSC has additional College of Medicine and College of Pharmacy campuses in Knoxville and a College of Medicine campus in Chattanooga. For more information, visit www.uthsc.edu.