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Nemours Hospital Launches Two Of The Largest Pediatric Studies In U.S.

Nemours Children’s Hospital is starting two of the largest pediatric studies in the country.

Researchers are looking for possible links between obesity in children and asthma. They will also study whether common over the counter drugs for acid reflux leave children more prone to infections.

It’s the first use of a network connecting eight major children’s hospitals across the country sharing patient data. Health reporter Abe Aboraya spoke with Dr. Terri Finkel, Nemours, chief scientific officer, about the first studies using PEDSnet.

“I think it’s limitless,” Finkel said. “For other diseases like Lupus that aren’t on our hit list initially, we will bring those on in the next few years. I think diabetes is an obvious one.”

On the difficulty of studying pediatric diseases:

“That is one of the main reasons we pulled together this network, to study those rare diseases, where no single physician, no single scientist, no single institution will have enough patients to get definitive answers,” Finkel said. “Children are complex. They live in different environments, there are all kinds of things that can influence that rare disease. So when you figure something out, how do you know it will apply to the whole universe of children with that disease?”

On shortening the time between a discovery and getting that science to patients:

“The target is today,” Finkel said. “I view this as our health care Twitter. We’re going to get the answers and be able to disperse it immediately to our partners.”

On whether having all this information in one place would be too tempting for hackers:

“We’ve worried about that a lot,” Finkel said. “We held up PEDSnet for about six months while we could assure ourselves the central repository was as safe as we can make it. But no data is hack proof, as far as I’m concerned.”

WMFE is a partner with Health News Florida, which receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Health News Florida reporter Abe Aboraya works for WMFE in Orlando. He started writing for newspapers in high school. After graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2007, he spent a year traveling and working as a freelance reporter for the Seattle Times and the Seattle Weekly, and working for local news websites in the San Francisco Bay area. Most recently Abe worked as a reporter for the Orlando Business Journal. He comes from a family of health care workers.