KAIMUKI—Kaimuki’s Miwa Takashima Martin, born at Queen’s Medical Center on February 10, 2011, is making history as a pioneer of science. She is the first Hawaii baby to embark upon a 21-year journey that may help us learn more than we’ve ever known about how the environment affects children’s health and development through the National Children’s Study.
Miwa and her parents, Chris Martin and Kazue Takashima, are among the first local families to enroll in the National Children’s Study, the largest long-term observational study of children’s health ever done in the United States. It will track 100,000 randomly selected American children from before birth until age 21, of which 1000 will come from 12 Oahu neighborhoods.
“We’re bursting with excitement. Now we have our first birth,” said Dr. Lynnae Sauvage, principal investigator at the University of Hawaii at Manoa Study Center of the National Children’s Study, which is headquartered at the John A. Burns School of Medicine.
“Miwa may not be able to speak yet, but she already has a lot to say that may improve the lives of millions of children,” Sauvage said. “Our team interviewed the couple today to gather some information, and we’ll be following up with periodic interviews as we follow Miwa’s growth until she turns 21.
The family just last week learned about the study when a member of the UH Manoa field research team, Rachel Reyes-Huynh, knocked on the front door of their home as part of a door-to-door survey currently underway on Oahu. The research team is looking for women who are or are planning to be pregnant to join the observational Study, which will examine how the environment influences children’s health, development, and quality of life from pre-birth to age 21.
The UH Manoa Study Center’s team is part of a national corps of researchers that will use different recruitment strategies to cover a total of 105 U.S. locations, stretching from California to Maine. In recent weeks, Study researchers in California, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, and Ohio also began launching similar recruitment efforts. The recruitment on Oahu will be expanding even more, as the Hawaii team of 10 field researchers expects to triple in size over the next few weeks.
The 12 Oahu neighborhoods included in the study are Kaimuki, Makiki, Salt Lake, Kalihi, Ewa, Waipahu, Mililani, Schofield Barracks, Waianae, Hauula, Kailua, and an area near Honolulu International Airport.
“Although we have some information on the environment’s impact on adults, there are significant differences between children and adults,” Sauvage said. “Children’s bodies are still growing and changing and take in more air, food, and water for their weight. Therefore, they may be more likely to be affected by their environment.”
“Even if you are not planning to become pregnant right now, learn about the study in case your plans change. You also may know someone who is eligible to join that you could refer to the study,” she adds.
Joining the Study involves providing information through periodic appointments or interviews with study team members before and during a woman’s pregnancy, and as the child grows up. The study is strictly observational, and no medicines or treatments are involved.