Pediatric & Community Research
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Pediatric & Community Research

How can we optimize child development in order to give children the most potential for their future? How can we change the environment or behaviors in such a way that will improve health?

The Avera Research Institute Center for Pediatric & Community Research team, led by Amy Elliott, PhD, with offices in Sioux Falls, Rapid City and Pine Ridge, SD, seeks to answer these questions using the latest in scientific principles and research methods.

Community-Based Research to Improve Children’s Health

Our expert research team is dedicated to improving population health through increased understanding of the role and effect of early environmental exposures on child health and development.

To achieve this, our team works directly with communities and uses applied research – including both observational and interventional studies – to gain insight into child health and development, particularly in historically high-risk or medically underserved populations.

This work has direct implications for improving diagnostic methods and designing more effective interventions and prevention activities.

Current Studies

Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Study

What affects a child’s growth? Is it more than just DNA? What contributes to his or her ability to do well in school, weight and risk of developing asthma? These are just a few questions being asked in the Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) program.

Avera is one of only 35 nationwide cohorts chosen to participate in ECHO – a national research program launched and supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The goal of this study is to improve child and adolescent health by looking at how a broad range of environmental influences – including sleep, nutrition, allergens and social relationships – affect children both prenatally and after birth.

Because of their high impact on public health, five key outcomes will be investigated:

  • Upper and lower airway conditions, such as asthma
  • Obesity
  • Neurodevelopment, including ADHD and autism
  • Pre-, peri- and postnatal outcomes, such as prematurity
  • Positive health

Make a Difference by Joining the ECHO Study

ECHO will build upon research completed during the Safe Passage study in addition to enrolling women who are currently pregnant and planning to deliver at the Women’s Center at Avera McKennan in Sioux Falls, SD or Rapid City Regional Hospital in Rapid City, SD.

To learn more about eligibility and participation requirements, call 605-504-3154.

Safe Sleep Study: Reducing Infant Mortality in American Indian Communities

Previous studies have revealed that newborns on American Indian reservations are at a higher risk for sleep-related deaths due to unsafe sleep environments such as co-sleeping and soft bedding. As a result, the Safe Sleep study was designed to find effective ways to improve sleep safety for these children by integrating American Indian cultural values and teachings with American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations.

In close collaboration with our Tribal Community Advisory Board, our team developed a curriculum that promotes safer sleeping environments for babies. The curriculum – which includes both video and written components – will guide women from the prenatal period through delivery and the first year of age, which is when babies are at the highest risk for SIDS. The videos feature elders sharing stories and offering parenting advice – both from a traditional and medical perspective.

A clinical trial, launching in early 2018 – will test the impact of this culturally-based intervention on reducing the risk for SIDS and other infant deaths related to unsafe sleep environments.

The clinical trial will enroll 150 participants across the two sites in western South Dakota.

Safe Passage Study on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

The Safe Passage Study was a large, prospective, multidisciplinary study designed to investigate the association between prenatal alcohol exposure, SIDS and stillbirth. Over 5,200 mother and baby pairs participated from several sites in South Dakota and North Dakota.

The primary study findings will be published in 2018.

Native Opportunities to Stop Hypertension (NOSH)

In collaboration with Washington State University, Avera Research Institute is looking for American Indian adults 18 years of age and older with diagnosed high blood pressure to participate in the 12-week study.

If eligible, you will be asked to:

  • Complete study visits over the phone.
  • Measure your blood pressure every week for 8 weeks with an at home monitor provided to you.
  • Shop for groceries with a $35 credit every week for 8 weeks.
  • You can receive up to $150 for your participation. 

To learn more about eligibility and participation requirements, call 605-791-1658.

Live Better. Live Balanced. Avera.

Avera is a health ministry rooted in the Gospel. Our mission is to make a positive impact in the lives and health of persons and communities by providing quality services guided by Christian values.

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