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Danielle Rotolo
All Children's Hospital
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All Children's Hospital Johns Hopkins Medicine Launches New Study Aimed at Preventing Obesity and Brain Development Disorders in Children

St. Petersburg - July 16, 2014 - All Children's Hospital Johns Hopkins Medicine launched a new study that will focus on healthy infants and young children,  looking at prenatal and early childhood factors that could influence health problems later in life. Researchers working on the PREDICT (Prospective Research on Early Determinants of Illness and Children's health Trajectories) study will take advantage of the Johns Hopkins Medicine pediatric biorepository at All Children's Hospital which will store samples of blood and saliva from the healthy infants and young children for long-term studies. The PREDICT study will also have a special focus on brain development, the causes of obesity later in childhood and adolescence, as well as prenatal risk factors that may impact a child's future health.

While studying neurodevelopment concerns, researchers will look at a number of genetic, clinical, social and behavioral variables that could yield important information to help children who have developmental delays or cognitive functioning issues. Meanwhile, the obesity research will include exploring how a child's family or neighborhood environment factors may influence childhood obesity.

"All Children's Hospital, Johns Hopkins University and the University of South Florida will all join forces in this research collaboration to study a broad population of healthy children and discover new ways to improve physical and cognitive development in children," explains Neil Goldenberg, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University and director of research at All Children's Hospital Johns Hopkins Medicine.

"We want to understand what's different about the kids who go on to develop chronic conditions like obesity and poor neurodevelopment that can impact health for many years-and find the risk factors that differentiate them from children who don't develop these health problems," said Sara Johnson, Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of general pediatrics and adolescent medicine at Johns Hopkins.

In order to conduct the research, teams from All Children's Hospital, Johns Hopkins University and USF will reach out to community organizations, pediatricians and other hospitals that can help enroll children in the study to create a broader group. "People who have healthy young kids may not perceive a benefit to being part of 'medical research,'" said Rachel Thornton, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University and co-investigator of the study. "When a child has a specific disease, families often are motivated to enroll in a study so that could help their child and others with the same disease. With PREDICT, our task is to clearly convey the potential long-term benefits to all the children in our communities."

All Children's Hospital launched a study in 2013, called iPICS (Institution-wide Prospective Inception Cohort Study), looking at children currently suffering from a variety of acute and chronic health conditions. Researchers eventually hope to compare the data from iPICS and PREDICT to further investigate risk factors and causes of childhood diseases.

This research is funded by an institutional grant from the All Children's Hospital Foundation.


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