Conditions Affecting Neurocognitive Development and Learning in Early Childhood

Areas of Research

Major research areas:

Genetics/Biological – Blood and urine are collected from the mom at 3 time points in the study, twice before delivery and once at delivery. Cord blood and placental tissue are collected at the time of delivery also. Blood is collected from the child at age 4. With the help of Dr.'s Kyobeni Mozhui (UTHSC), Rob Williams (UTHSC), and Alicia Smith (Emory), DNA is being extracted from buffy coat, affy Axiome Biobank arrays can be run on CANDLE mother/child dyads, and CANDLE data can be linked with genetics data in Gene Network.

Neurocognitive – CANDLE children undergo cognitive assessments at ages 1, 2, and 3. These assessments look at nonverbal cognitive ability, receptive language, expressive language, motor skills, adaptive skills, and behavior observation. At age 4, the children are given a more in-depth cognitive assessment that explores overall cognitive ability, verbal skills, and nonverbal skills. Dr.'s Frederick Palmer, Carolyn Graff, Laura Murphy, Eszter Volgyi, Quynh Tran, Tamekia Jones, Toni Whitaker, Sunny Anand, and Frances Tylavsky are continually working to develop research questions focusing on neurocognitive outcomes.

Stress - CANDLE is working on putting together a team of experts who can develop research questions regarding stress and child outcomes. CANDLE  uses the Traumatic Life Events Questionnaire, Parenting Stress Index, and Social Support Questionnaire to assess stress in mothers and are collected at different time points throughout the study. Some other assessments also look at maternal depression, maternal temperament, conflict in home, and IQ.

Education - CANDLE has established a relationship with the Shelby County School District to obtain the CANDLE child's academic and behavorial school records and hopes to follow these children throughout their school years. 

Tenncare/Medical Records - CANDLE is in the process of linking its data with Medical records and Tenncare. 

Public Health Exposome  - CANDLE is working with the Research Center on Health Disparities, Equity and the Exposome lead by Dr.'s Paul Juarez and Patricia Mathews-Juarez to further research economical and environmental disparities.

Other research areas:

Demographics – Demographics data includes the SES, maternal education, race, age, marital status, and ethnicity.  CANDLE also collects data on neighborhood effects, i.e., number of individuals in household, unemployment status of neighborhood, access to fresh food in neighborhood, and perceived safety of neighborhoods. We also collected demographic information on CANDLE fathers.

Physical Health – Physical health includes the health of the child and mother. A Child Health Update is conducted on the CANDLE child every three months throughout the study. Baseline maternal health is also collected on the CANDLE mom. This includes parity, any substance abuse, and sexually transmitted diseases. Also, information regarding asthma and an extensive family history of chronic diseases and medical history is gathered. Both maternal and child blood pressure is taken at the 4 year visit.

Environmental – A Lead risk questionnaire is collected 11 times throughout the study. A choline inhibitors questionnaire is also asked 4 times during the study.

Nutrition – Two nutrition questionnaires are used for the CANDLE Study. The Food Frequency Questionnaire is collected twice for the mother to get as much information as possible about what she consumed during pregnancy. The NDSR 24-hour food recall is conducted 9 times during the course of the 3-years for the children.  There is also an Infant/Toddler Feeding Practices questionnaire and Comprehensive Feeding Practices questionnaire that look at feeding practices at different points during the child’s development.