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Harvard epidemiologist to chair NZ scientific group

Harvard epidemiologist to chair NZ scientific group

Harvard epidemiologist Professor Carlos A. Camargo has been appointed the new chair of the Expert Scientific Advisory Group for the Growing Up in New Zealand (GUiNZ) longitudinal study.

The Advisory Group is comprised of New Zealand and international experts in child development, health and longitudinal research, and provides strategic advice on longitudinal study design and policy-relevant outcomes to the GUiNZ research team. Professor Camargo is a founding member of the group, providing expertise in a number of scientific areas relevant to the study.

“The Growing Up in New Zealand study is a national resource” says Professor Camargo. “I look forward to working closely with both the Auckland-based research team and the Expert Scientific Advisory Group on achieving the many important study objectives.”

Dr Camargo is Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health and the Conn Chair in Emergency Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. He holds an international reputation in respiratory/allergy emergencies, health services research in emergency care, and several other public health issues.

Professor Camargo and his team study the causes and management of respiratory/allergy disorders, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and food allergy in several large cohorts. His team first described the strong association between obesity and risk of developing asthma, and discovered that higher intake of vitamin D by mothers during pregnancy was associated with a lower risk of wheezing in their children. Subsequent randomized trials demonstrated beneficial effects of vitamin D supplementation on winter-related atopic dermatitis and acute respiratory infections in children – findings that have opened up new avenues for the prevention and management of several respiratory/allergy disorders.

Professor Camargo took up the position on March 6, 2014.

About Growing Up in New Zealand (GUiNZ)

Growing Up in New Zealand is a longitudinal study tracking the development of approximately 7,000 New Zealand children from before they were born until they are young adults. It reflects the diversity of today’s children: one in four identify as Maori, one in five as Pacific Islander, one in six as Asian and two out of three as European. Nearly half the children identify with more than one ethnic group.
Unlike previous longitudinal studies in New Zealand, this study has collected multidisciplinary information about children’s development on five occasions, from before birth to age 2 years. The study aims to provide evidence of whether existing government policies are reaching the families they were designed for and, if so, what effect they’re having. This will enable the development of new policies that can be better targeted to address entrenched problems, and to harness success and solutions. It will also provide unique information about what shapes children’s early development and how interventions might be targeted at the earliest opportunity to mitigate longer term effects of a poor start in life.

Growing Up in New Zealand currently offers access to information on vulnerable children, housing, breastfeeding/early solids, immunisation, languages, early childhood education, interaction with health and other key services, paid parental leave and maternal return to the workforce.

It is University of Auckland-led research. The government contract for the study is managed by the Families Commission. The study is funded by multiple government agencies.


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