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NIH landmark study tracks kids and substance use

September 25, 2015
by Julie Miller, Editor in Chief
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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) launched a major research project today to track the impact of substance use on young people. NIH has awarded 13 grants to research institutions as part of the landmark study.

The Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study will follow approximately 10,000 children beginning at ages 9 to10, before they initiate drug use, through the period of highest risk for substance use and other mental health disorders.

Scientists will track:

  • Exposure to substances (including nicotine, alcohol, and marijuana);
  • Academic achievement;
  • Cognitive skills;
  • Mental health; and
  • Brain structure and function.

“With advances in neuroimaging and other investigative tools, we will be able to look in greater detail at the impact of substance use on young people,” said Nora D. Volkow, MD, director of NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), in a statement. “Adolescents have access to high potency marijuana and greater varieties of nicotine delivery devices than previous generations. We want to know how that and other trends affect the trajectory of the developing brain.”

The ABCD study will seek to address questions related to substance use and development that will help inform prevention and treatment research priorities, public health strategies, and policy decisions.

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