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Conditions Affecting Neurocognitive Development and Learning in Early Childhood

In order to improve brain development in young children, CANDLE tests specific hypotheses about the causes of poor cognitive development in children by recruiting 1,503 pregnant women to a cohort study. These children will be followed to 3 years of age, with an additional visit at age 4 as part of the CANDLE Extension study.

Possible causal factors will be linked to information obtained from questionnaires, interviews, assessments, medical chart abstraction, blood and urine samples from the mother and cord blood, and placental tissue. The primary outcomes of the "Conditions affecting neurocognitive development and learning in early childhood (CANDLE)" study are those associated with poor cognitive outcome in the child. Endpoints will be taken from cognitive assessments conducted at 12 months, 24 months, 36 months, and 48 months of age. Both basic and applied research may be undertaken using data from the project, with sub studies including molecular genetics, environmental exposure assessments, psychosocial & neighborhood effects and micronutrient deficiency analyses. Based on the results of this cohort study, interventions and policy may be developed to improve brain development in young children in Shelby County, TN.

The long term objective of this study is to provide information that will ultimately lead to improvements in the health, development, and well-being of children in Shelby County, TN through interventions and policy enforcement and/or development. The primary goal of CANDLE is to investigate the separate and combined effects of the mother's prenatal actions, the home environment and childhood experiences, the exposure to potentially harmful toxins, and the genetic make-up of the child on his/her brain development from birth to three years of age. With the expansion of visits within the CANDLE Extension study to include assessment at age four, this investigation will continue to gather information as the child grows and develops.