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Respir Res. 2019 Jun 10;20(1):115. doi: 10.1186/s12931-019-1088-9.

The Children's Respiratory and Environmental Workgroup (CREW) birth cohort consortium: design, methods, and study population.

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University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI, 53706, USA.
Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Clinical Science Center-K4/918, 600 Highland Ave, Madison, WI, 53792-9988, USA.
University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI, 53706, USA.
RTI International, East Cornwallis Road, Post Office Box 12194, Raleigh, Research Triangle Park, NC, 27709-2194, USA.
Boston University School of Medicine, 72 E Concord St, Boston, MA, 02118, USA.
Channing Laboratory, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, 02115, USA.
Columbia University, Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY, 10032, USA.
Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, MI, 48202, USA.
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, 21205, USA.
Rho Federal Systems Division, Inc., Chapel Hill, NC, 27517, USA.
University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, 85721, USA.
University of California, San Francisco, CA, 94143, USA.
University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, 60637, USA.
University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, 45220, USA.
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN, 37232, USA.
Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, 63110, USA.



Single birth cohort studies have been the basis for many discoveries about early life risk factors for childhood asthma but are limited in scope by sample size and characteristics of the local environment and population. The Children's Respiratory and Environmental Workgroup (CREW) was established to integrate multiple established asthma birth cohorts and to investigate asthma phenotypes and associated causal pathways (endotypes), focusing on how they are influenced by interactions between genetics, lifestyle, and environmental exposures during the prenatal period and early childhood.


CREW is funded by the NIH Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) program, and consists of 12 individual cohorts and three additional scientific centers. The CREW study population is diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, geographical distribution, and year of recruitment. We hypothesize that there are phenotypes in childhood asthma that differ based on clinical characteristics and underlying molecular mechanisms. Furthermore, we propose that asthma endotypes and their defining biomarkers can be identified based on personal and early life environmental risk factors. CREW has three phases: 1) to pool and harmonize existing data from each cohort, 2) to collect new data using standardized procedures, and 3) to enroll new families during the prenatal period to supplement and enrich extant data and enable unified systems approaches for identifying asthma phenotypes and endotypes.


The overall goal of CREW program is to develop a better understanding of how early life environmental exposures and host factors interact to promote the development of specific asthma endotypes.


Allergy; Asthma; Birth cohort; Children; Development; Environment; Longitudinal study

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