Dean Pomeroy, Hertz-Picciotto, Rep. Matsui and Quist Speakers at an October 5 celebration of UC Davis joining the National Children's Study share milk and cookies and a toast in honor of their commitment to children's health. From left are Claire Pomeroy, dean of the UC Davis School of Medicine; Irva Hertz-Picciotto, professor of public heatlh sciences and principal investigator of the study; Congresswoman Doris Matsui; and Daphne Quist of Sacramento ENRICHES.

UC Davis Health System has been selected as a new site for the National Children's Study, which is assessing the effects of environmental and genetic factors on 100,000 children from before birth to age 21 in the United States. It is the largest study of child and human health ever conducted in the United States.

The new center will manage community engagement, local recruitment and data collection on 2,000 children in Sacramento and San Mateo counties. One of 22 new centers announced today and the only one in Northern California, UC Davis will receive nearly $31.8 million over seven years for its portion of the study.

“We have an excellent research team of pediatricians and specialists in environmental, family and women's health, along with a solid track record with large-scale population studies focused on children's health risks and environmental exposures,” said Irva Hertz-Picciotto, a professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences, who will lead the UC Davis center. “Our capabilities and experience match the goals and the plan for the National Children's Study perfectly, and we are excited about the opportunity and ready to contribute to this landmark effort.”

The National Children's Study is led by a consortium of federal agency partners, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (including the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences at the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"Our capabilities and experience match the goals and the plan for the  National Children's Study perfectly, and we areIrva Hertz-Picciotto excited about the opportunity and ready to contribute to this landmark effort."
— Irva Hertz-Picciotto, professor of public health sciences

The overall goal of the study is to learn about the causes and contributing factors for some of the nation's most pressing childhood health problems, including autism, asthma, diabetes and obesity. This knowledge will enable public health workers and health-care providers in devising ways to prevent these conditions, or at least reduce their severity.

“The problems we are seeing in pediatric practice need to be better understood to be treated effectively,” said Richard Pan, a UC Davis pediatrician and member of the study research team. “Data from the National Children's Study will give us the knowledge to change health trends that start during childhood and lead to poor health later in life. Our participation in this study will increase our understanding of these health issues in both our local community and nationwide.”

“I extend my congratulations to Dr. Hertz-Picciotto and her research team and look forward to seeing the results of the study come to fruition. By taking the steps to examine childhood health issues and trends now, we are working to improve the health of generations to come,” said U.S. Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento).

“We are so proud to be part of this effort to discover more about the factors that influence the health of America's children,” said Claire Pomeroy, dean of the School of Medicine and vice chancellor for Human Health Sciences at UC Davis. “By building on our reputation for community engagement, we will help guide efforts in prevention, intervention and health policy for children throughout Northern California and across the United States. We are deeply honored by the NIH's recognition of our expertise in children's health as a new National Children's Study center.”

UC Davis is a national leader in child health research. In addition to a comprehensive children's hospital and research institute focused on childhood neurodevelopment, UC Davis has led several unique, large-scale epidemiological studies focused on children's health. One recently completed study revealed connections between chemical components of air pollution and bronchitis diagnoses in preschoolers. Another just-recently launched study is looking for biological markers and environmental triggers of autism in its earliest possible phases, beginning during pregnancy and through age 3. The principal investigator on both of those studies is Hertz-Picciotto.

“A lot of my research is based on the importance of the pre-natal period to understanding later health events in a child's life,” she said. “We'll be recruiting women who are pregnant or considering becoming pregnant into the National Children's Study so we include the early gestation period in our data.”

In total, the study will be conducted in 105 designated study locations across the United States that together are representative of the entire U.S. population. A national probability sample was used to select the counties in the study, which took into account representation of rural, urban and major metropolitan areas, as well as all four regions of the country (Northeast, Midwest, South and West).

The National Children's Study began in response to the Children's Health Act of 2000, when Congress directed the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and other federal agencies to undertake a national, long-term study of children's health and development in relation to environmental exposures. (See: Section 1004, f:h4365enr.txt.) Today's announcement of new study centers follows earlier milestones, including the 2004 announcement of the 105 study locations and the establishment of Vanguard centers — the first seven centers — established in 2005. For more information about the National Children's Study, visit

UC Davis Health System is an academic medical center that includes a top-ranked school of medicine, a 577-bed acute care hospital and outpatient clinics in communities throughout the Sacramento region. The health system is the leading tertiary care provider for a 33-county region of Northern California, offering a comprehensive array of specialty services, from a level 1 trauma center and regional burn center to a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center and children's hospital. Research strengths include clinical and translational science, stem cell science, infectious diseases, vascular biology, neuroscience, cancer, functional genomics and mouse biology, comparative medicine, combinatorial chemistry and nutrition, among many others. For more information, visit