RFTS grew from three “parent” studies which created and sustained this large community-recruited cohort. The three primary grants pivoted on research questions about:
Supplemental Studies, are those with additional funding to address focused questions alongside aspects of RFTS. These included The Healthy Men Study, [and names of EPA/CDC water projects here]. Ancillary Studies, draw in part or in whole on robust data available from RFTS. Many of these nurtured the doctoral or master’s work of graduate students and post-doctoral trainees.
RFTS began in 1999 at the University of North Carolina School of Public Health, with Dr. David A. Savitz, the chair of epidemiology, as the principal investigator. The first phase was funded by the American Water Works Association Research Foundation. Two subsequent major phases were funded by National Institutes for Health as R01 grants to Dr. Katherine E. Hartmann. The study, data, and tracking of participants and children after pregnancy has been based at Vanderbilt University Medical Center since 2007.
While the participants ultimately made our work possible, a core team of 11 researchers brought the main phases of the study into being, implementing infrastructure, recruitment, and follow-up of those enrolled, and more than 20 others contributed specialized expertise in areas like men’s reproduction, chemical and environmental measures, and advanced statistical methods.
Publications here are listed alphabetically by the first author in the citation. Study results, as well as descriptions of study processes, measurement and data analysis or statistical methods, are grouped with the phase in which the approach was developed or applied. Commentary and new areas of research or demonstration of methods that grew out of experiences, data, or samples from RFTS are also grouped within the related parent phase. An asterisk indicates the author was a student or trainee at the time of the work. Publications that relied on data across phases are listed with the phase that motivated the aims of the paper or with the final phase from which data was included.
Research following people forward in time and tracking details, can’t achieve the ultimate standard for certainty about cause. Current norms to study the cause of an event, like a pregnancy complication, require that participants are randomly assigned, by a process like flipping a coin, to receive or not receive specific medications or types of care, or to do or not do certain activities. Because this is typically not possible in pregnancy, especially to study suspected risk factors, the next best approach is to gather large amounts of information, from many women, and use the best statistical approaches, to get answers.
We’ve written this site in plain language using judgement about how strong or weak the statistical precision is for study results. To drill down on details, and understand any caveats, the original scientific publications are provided.