Testimony on behalf of the Friends of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Regarding the Fiscal Year 2007 Appropriation for the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Submitted to the
Committee on Appropriations
Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education
The Honorable Ralph Regula, Chair
Mary Ann McCabe, Ph.D., 2006 Chair
Friends of NICHD
c/o Society for Research in Child Development
750 First Street NE
Washington D.C. 20002-4242
The Friends of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) is a coalition of more than 100 organizations, representing scientists, health professionals, and advocates for the health of infants, children, families, and people with disabilities. We are pleased to submit testimony to support the extraordinary work of the NICHD.
First, the Coalition would like to thank the Subcommittee for its previous support of the federal investment in the National Institutes of Health (NIH). To ensure that progress is sustained, the Coalition joins the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research in supporting an FY 2007 appropriation of $29.75 billion for the NIH, a 5% increase over FY 2006.
Since its creation in 1963, NICHD has made great strides in meeting the objectives of its broad biomedical and behavioral research mission. The NICHD research mission and portfolio, which is the broadest of all institutes and centers, includes reducing difficulties with pregnancy, reducing birth defects and infant mortality, and improving knowledge about learning disabilities.
Although the NICHD has made significant contributions to the well-being of our children, women, and families, much remains to be done. The Institute is already funding grant awards at dramatically reduced levels in the current fiscal year, and under the proposed budget, this situation will continue to worsen in FY 2007. With adequate resources, NICHD could build upon the promising initiatives described in this testimony and restore adequate funding to its research projects. For FY 2007, the Friends of NICHD support an appropriation of $1.328 billion for NICHD, a 5% increase over FY 2006.
The NICHD network of Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units (MFMU), working at 14 sites across the U.S., affords its physician-researchers the opportunity to conduct large prospective clinical trials. Results of a successful clinical research study within the MFMU showed that treatment with progesterone could reduce recurrent preterm birth in high-risk women. This is one of the first advances in this area, despite extensive efforts over decades.
Premature birth remains a significant public health problem, affecting one in eight babies born in this country and is the leading cause of newborn death. With sufficient funds, NICHD plans to implement a major new research initiative focusing on genomics and proteomics that could accelerate knowledge into the mechanisms responsible for premature birth, thereby further reducing the incidence of preterm birth.
NICHD is leading federal research efforts to expand newborn metabolic and genetic screening by developing a multiplexed screening prototype that can be used by states and commercial laboratories in screening newborns for a broad range of potentially fatal or disabling conditions. Enhanced newborn screening would permit more timely clinical and preventive interventions for currently treatable genetic disorders and enable scientists to study rare disorders and develop treatments.
Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders
Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities
Child development involves some of the most complex and important questions facing behavioral and social science and pediatric researchers. NICHD has been actively involved in testing off-patent drugs for safety in children, as mandated in the Best Pharmaceuticals Act for Children. They are now also developing improved databases for development, including developmental norms for new medical technologies, such as fMRI and bone density tests.
NICHD currently funds behavioral studies that are critical to ensuring the health of our nation's children and adolescents. For example, NICHD has recently funded work related to the safety of teen driving. NICHD also funds critical research in the area of child abuse and neglect. Research has clearly shown that many diseases and problems of adulthood, ranging from obesity to violence to AIDS, are rooted in childhood behaviors. The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health has shown that by the time they reach early adulthood (age 19), a large proportion of American youth have begun the poor practices contributing to three leading causes of preventable death in the U.S.: smoking, poor diet and physical inactivity, and alcohol abuse.
NICHD is integrally involved in research into the origins of obesity in childhood. Next to tobacco use, diet and exercise represent the areas in which prevention efforts will have the greatest impact in reducing the socioeconomic and societal burdens of disease through halting the obesity epidemic. More developmental research needs to be focused on understanding the interplay among behavioral, social and physical environment, and biological factors that lead to obesity so that effective and appropriate interventions can be developed earlier in the life cycle.
National Children's Study
The Children's Health Act of 2000 charged NICHD with leading the National Children's Study (NCS) - a national longitudinal study of environmental influences on the health and development of children. This study will follow 100,000 children from before birth to early adulthood providing one of the richest information resources available for answering questions related to children's health and development. Although NICHD and a small consortium of others have funded the initial stages of planning, developing the study protocol, and selecting the study sites, this study is beyond the scope of any single agency. To fully implement the study in FY 2007, the NCS needs an increase of $57 million over the FY 2006 funding level.
To enable NICHD to fulfill the promise that these activities and advances represent, the Friends of NICHD wholeheartedly support providing the Institute an appropriation of $1.328 billion in FY 2007. Thank you.