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September 21, 2005

Prospects for the Future of Child Health Through Research

JAMA. 2005;294(11):1373-1379. doi:10.1001/jama.294.11.1373

Improvements in child health through research will be made at an increasingly accelerated pace during the post-genomic era. Advances made possible through genomics, proteomics, and the application of nanosystem technology, coupled with a greater understanding of the influence of the environment on human genes, will enhance our ability to prevent, modify, or cure numerous childhood disorders. This article reviews some of the more pressing and important causes of morbidity and mortality in children, discusses the manner in which some of the newer technologies may be applied to investigations of these disorders, and offers predictions concerning the effect that new discoveries may have in ameliorating the morbid consequences of childhood diseases. The need to design and implement prospective long-term studies to determine the most effective ways to reduce the burden of preventable problems, which are rooted in societal issues (child abuse, alcoholism, drug abuse, and homicide) is highlighted. Physician-scientists also must address the ethical, political, and social questions already raised by recent advances in medicine.