Current Funded Projects 

FY23 NCCRAHS Emerging Issues Program (EIP) Project Summaries 

Title: Phenome-wide Association Study of Medical Comorbidities in Farm Children

Principal Investigator: Richard Burke, M.P.H.

Co-Principal Investigators: Bryan Weichelt, Ph.D.; Jeff VanWormer, Ph.D.

Organization: National Farm Medicine Center, Marshfield, WI

Abstract: Agriculture remains one of the most dangerous occupations in the US for youth. While injuries are indeed a major concern, children in the rural US, including most farms, have been shown to have higher rates of chemical exposures, zoonotic diseases, oral health conditions, auto incidents, and health risk behaviors such as tobacco and alcohol use. Still, some health protections may also occur, such as primed immune-protective pathways resulting in lower rates of asthma, atopic disease, and other pro-inflammatory conditions later in life. This study utilizes the existing Wisconsin NCCRAHS Surveillance System (WINS) and a novel application of a phenome-wide association study to investigate a multitude of health outcomes within the medical record, comparing farm and non-farm children. We aim to:

  1. Estimate the differences in the burden of health conditions between children and adolescents who live vs. do not live on farms and,
  2. Identify subgroups of farm children and adolescents who are at the highest risk of, or with the highest protection from, health conditions most likely to impact farm residents.

Our findings will highlight the medical comorbidities that most clearly differentiate farm vs. non-farm children and adolescents, which will identify previously overlooked emerging health issues, including both health benefits and health risks (perhaps equally impactful as agricultural injuries). This will generate critical pilot data needed for future, externally funded research proposals that focus on promoting the health and safety of farm families.

Title: Assessing U.S. Media's Reaction to a Suggested Terminology Shift from "Accident" to "Incident" in News Reports of Childhood Agricultural Injury

Principal Investigator: Christopher Benny

Co-Principal Investigator: Bryan Weichelt, Ph.D.

Organization: National Farm Medicine Center, Marshfield, WI

Abstract: In the United States, it is estimated that a child (under 18 years) dies every three days, and about 33 children are seriously injured every day due to agriculture related incidents. In terms of education, prevention, and defining the public's perception of injury risk, news reports serve to draw attention to fatal and non-fatal injury events and have the potential to be useful educational tools. However, many news reports still refer to these incidents as "accidents," undercutting their preventability and the gravity of the situation. The principles of linguistic relativity asserts that a language's structure influences its speakers' worldview or cognitive processes, and that people's perceptions are thus related to their language. In fact, this principle has found its way into action by one of the largest cities in the United States. In 2014 the City of New York stated in their ‘Vision Zero Action Plan’ that, “The City of New York must no longer regard traffic crashes as mere ‘accidents,’ but rather as preventable incidents that can be systematically addressed”. In order to initiate change of the public’s perception on childhood injuries and fatalities being an inevitable part of agriculture, journalists’ reporting of childhood agricultural injuries and fatalities should replace “accident” with “incident” consistent with the preferred terminology of the discipline of injury prevention. Our study will:

First, assess how prevalent is the use of the word “accident” to describe childhood agricultural injuries in the news reports captured by, and how does that prevalence compare with reporting of adult (≥18 years old) injuries in news reports and;

Second, analyze the general response of U.S. news media journalists to our suggestion of changing the term “accident” to “incident” when describing agricultural injuries.

Findings from this study will be used to provide insight on the feasibility of a major initiative that influences a shift from “accident” to the preferred terminology of “incident” in U.S. news media reports on agricultural injury and fatality events.

FY22 NCCRAHS Emerging Issues Program (EIP) Project Summaries

Title: Investigating the work, education, and health experiences of hired Latinx child farmworkers in the era of COVID-19

Principal Investigator: Taylor J Arnold, MA, (PhD Student)

Organization: Wake Forest School of Medicine; Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Abstract: Latinx individuals and families comprise a large proportion of the US farmworker population and have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Little is known about the specific ways in which the pandemic has impacted Latinx children who do farm work. The goal of this project is to delineate the emerging issues related to the work, education, and health experiences of the vulnerable hired Latinx child farmworker population in the era of COVID-19. By using a novel model based on the precarity and structural vulnerability of Latinx farmworkers during COVID-19, this project will: First, describe the ways in which the pandemic has influenced the working characteristics and hours of Latinx child farmworkers, and the impact of these experiences and disruptions on their education and; Second, delineate the ongoing changes to farm workplace organization, protocols, and work safety culture during the pandemic, specifically investigating how these shifting work and life changes are affecting the health and safety of Latinx child farmworkers. These goals will be accomplished through semi-structured, in-depth interviews with key stakeholders and Latinx child farmworkers in North Carolina. Findings from this study will identify and describe these challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic on Latinx child farmworkers, yield novel evidence for educators and policymakers, aid public health professionals in addressing current disparities and prepare for future disasters, and continue a long-term community based participatory research partnership.

Title: Exploring the Impact of Public Health Emergencies and Disasters on the Children of Agricultural Workers in Puerto Rico

Principal Investigator: Marysel Pagan Santana, DrPH

Organization: Migrant Clinicians Network; San Juan, Puerto Rico

Abstract: Agricultural workers are subject to various physical, environmental, and mental stressors throughout their work and have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The current climate crisis has significantly impacted agricultural workers in Puerto Rico (PR) by creating more hostile weather patterns and a greater frequency of natural disasters, which in-turn lead to health, food, and education disparities for the children of farm worker families. This project aims to explore the health effects of public health emergencies on the children of agricultural workers and identify strategies, programs, and policies to address health impact of public health emergencies on the health of agricultural workers' children. Based on the socio-ecological model, this project will conduct interviews and focus groups with multiple stakeholders through the Migrant Clinicians Network, including medical personnel, educators, parents, and other known influencers to assess the needs and experiences of farm families, their children, and their communities. The results from this pilot study will allow the researchers to prioritize the needs of the community and identify the appropriate funding to develop and adapt programs that will address the needs and improve the health outcomes of children of agricultural workers in PR.

Title: Together: A Safer Home on the Farm

Principal Investigator: Katherine Brieger, MA, RD, CCE

Organization: Warwick Area Farmworker Organization, Goshen, NY

Abstract: Warwick Area Farmworker Organization (WAFO) formerly (Warwick Area Migrant Committee) has been serving farmworkers and their families since 1959. WAFO will utilize its strong connection and experience with farmworkers to develop a unique program focused on the strengths of this community. WAFO will be designing and delivering a program on Child Safety in Agricultural Settings for parents working on farms who live in Orange and Ulster County, New York State. The goal of this project is to develop an educational module focused on child safety in agricultural settings. The module will be focused on general safety in agricultural home settings. The Module will be part of a training program designed for use by Community Health Workers (CHWs) in informal settings which will allow for greater access to those living in agricultural settings. The materials developed for this program will consist of low literacy materials in English and Spanish which can be produced for use across the country. The program will increase knowledge of and preventative steps farmworker families can take to improve child safety in their homes.

Title: Environmental Health Issues Among Children Living in Imperial County

Principal Investigator: Nicolas Lopez-Galvez, PhD, MPH, MA

Organization:  San Diego State University, San Diego, CA

Abstract: Imperial County has the highest concentration of Hispanic/Latino populations of all California and ranks last among all California counties for injury deaths, income inequality, unemployment, and children living in poverty. Children in Imperial go to the emergency room for asthma related conditions at a rate three time higher than the states’ average rate and have higher overweight and obese rates than California overall. The goal of this pilot project is to determine the levels of pesticides that children living in this region might be exposed to and investigate any potential neurodevelopmental issue associated with this exposure. We propose a mixed methods exploratory assessment study to characterize and quantify pesticide exposure levels using passive samplers (silicone wristbands) and the neurobehavioral and cognitive functioning of children cohabitating with farmworkers in Imperial County. The results from this study will serve to understand the patterns of child development in this population, and it could raise important questions regarding the human health impact of the pesticides usage in Imperial County. This study will develop grassroots understanding for further studies in the area.

Past Funded Projects

The purpose of the “Mini-grant” program (Emerging Issues Grants) of the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety was to support small-scale projects and pilot studies that addressed prevention of childhood agricultural disease and injury. From 2002 through 2019, more than 60 projects were funded up to $20,000 each. Individuals affiliated with community-based organizations, public or private institutions, units of local or state government, or tribal government throughout the United States were eligible to apply for funds. Priority was given to organizations and junior faculty who were building their capacity in childhood agricultural health and safety, and projects that generated new partnerships.