Improvements in child health through research will be made at an increasingly
accelerated pace during the post-genomic era. Advances made possible through
genomics, proteomics, and the application of nanosystem technology, coupled
with a greater understanding of the influence of the environment on human
genes, will enhance our ability to prevent, modify, or cure numerous childhood
disorders. This article reviews some of the more pressing and important causes
of morbidity and mortality in children, discusses the manner in which some
of the newer technologies may be applied to investigations of these disorders,
and offers predictions concerning the effect that new discoveries may have
in ameliorating the morbid consequences of childhood diseases. The need to
design and implement prospective long-term studies to determine the most effective
ways to reduce the burden of preventable problems, which are rooted in societal
issues (child abuse, alcoholism, drug abuse, and homicide) is highlighted.
Physician-scientists also must address the ethical, political, and social
questions already raised by recent advances in medicine.