Located in the northwest corner of the state, Benton County is nestled in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, surrounded by lakes and national forests. Benton County is also home to some of the world’s largest corporations, such as Wal-Mart Stores, Sam’s Club, and J.B. Hunt Transport. With its diverse population and community, Benton County is an ideal representation of the country as a whole for the National Children’s Study.
There are approximately 3,300 births per year to county residents. Based on birth certificate data, 81 percent of all births in the county occur at three delivering hospitals that are part of two large health systems — Northwest Health System and Mercy Health System of NWA — both of which are partnering providers for the Benton County Study location.
About Benton County, Arkansas
Benton County is primarily non-urban, with 70 percent of the population residing within 10 miles of the I-540 corridor running north to south through the center of the county. It is the second most populous county in Arkansas, and it has the lowest percentage of residents living below the poverty level (9.1 percent) and the second highest median household income ($48,162) in the state. From the Census data 2006–2008 (3-year estimate), 79 percent of the population of 202,363 in Benton County are white, almost 14 percent are Hispanic, and 1 percent African-American. Asian, Native American, and multiracial make up less than 6 percent of the population.
The county has three principal cities. Bentonville, population 33,658, is the home of Wal-Mart Stores, the largest retailer in the world, and the site of 1,300 managing offices of primary vendors to Wal-Mart. Rogers, population 54,786, is an active, economically and medically vibrant city adjoining and just south of Bentonville along the I-540 corridor. Siloam Springs, to the west of Rogers on the Oklahoma border, has a population of 14,555 and is home to John Brown University, a highly-rated liberal arts college. Surrounding towns and villages include Lowell, Gravette, Gentry, and Pea Ridge. The 2006 Census classified 10 of the 27 census tracts in the county as rural.
National Children’s Study is the largest long-term study of children’s health ever conducted in the United States. The National Children’s Study is a mandate of the Children’s Health Act of 2000, and it will follow 100,000 children from before birth through age 21 to study how environmental and genetic factors affect their health, development, and well-being.
The Benton County site — a research effort conducted through Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute (ACHRI) — is one of 105 counties selected throughout 40 states to participate. Each Study location was selected to provide geographic and demographic diversity, representative of the United States as a whole. ACHRI expects to enroll 1,000 women into the Study beginning January 2011.
ACHRI recruitment efforts for the National Children’s Study will be in a provider-based strategy, one of three pilot programs being conducted in the initial Study. The provider-based strategy will collaborate with local physicians and hospitals throughout Benton County. (Visit Benton County Study Location Local Service Providers page for a complete list.)
Participant eligibility is limited to women ages 18–49 who reside in pre-determined segments of Benton County and who are either currently pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Registered nurses will conduct the data collection efforts, which will include in-home visits, telephone surveys, questionnaires, and medical history. Participation in the Study is voluntary and participants will receive modest reimbursement for their time.
National Institutes of Health awarded the $14.4 million contract to ACHRI to facilitate the Study in its newly established Benton County site located in Rogers, AR. The Study is lead by a consortium of federal agencies, including the NICHD, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The Benton County Study location is excited to be a part of the formative research within the Vanguard Study (the precursor to the Main Study) and will help determine the best policies and procedures for how the Study will be conducted throughout its 21+ years.
The Arkansas Study Center is home to a team of researchers, physicians, statisticians, epidemiologists, data collection experts, and staff to support these efforts. The Investigative Team brings vast experience conducting epidemiologic and longitudinal studies of prenatal, neonatal, and child health, which will provide the necessary expertise to establish and lead a National Children’s Study Center. Their home institutions — ACHRI and the College of Medicine within the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences — have model programs that provide services and conduct research that will enrich our abilities to understand Benton County children and families, and to develop effective strategies for engaging the community in research.