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NIH to end controversial children's study

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is cancelling the National Children’s Study (NCS), a controversial and long-delayed plan to follow the health of 100,000 U.S. children from birth to age 21, NIH director Francis Collins announced this morning.

The move follows the release this morning of a report, from a working group created by the NIH director's advisory committee, that concluded "the NCS, as currently outlined, is not feasible.”

"I am accepting the ACD findings that the NCS is not feasible," Collins said in a statement. "I am disappointed that this study failed to achieve its goals. Yet I am optimistic that other approaches will provide answers to these important research questions."

"I concur with the report’s conclusions that research addressing the links between the environment and child health and development is much needed, and that the specific research in this area should be initiated within the scientific community, use mechanisms that can evolve with the science, employ the use of a growing number of clinical research networks, and capitalize on research and technology advances that have developed since the inception of the study. NIH will consider the alternative approaches defined in the report in consultation with the broader scientific community."

The NCS has long been the subject of debate over its design, goals, and cost, which some experts have predicted could reach $1.5 billion. Collins had put the study on hold after a series of outside reviews, and earlier this week Congress released a 2015 spending plan that called for redistributing funding for the NCS to other programs if NIH decided not to move forward with the project.

More later from ScienceInsider's Jocelyn Kaiser, who covered this morning's meeting.