ECHO Program Protocol

ECHO’s expert researchers, who work across many areas of child health research, worked together for over 2 years to create a protocol for the program. This protocol is referred to as the ECHO-wide Cohort Data Collection Protocol, or the ECHO Protocol for short. A protocol is a set of instructions for researchers that outlines how to conduct a research study. The ECHO Protocol tells the studies participating in the ECHO Program, known as “cohorts,” what information to collect from participants and when to collect it.

This protocol joins ECHO cohorts together to create a collection of information, including samples, from participants across the United States. From this large collection of information, researchers can explore big questions about how the environment - the world around us - impacts child health.

How was the ECHO Protocol Created?

In the ECHO Program, child health experts are working together to achieve ECHO’s mission to enhance the health of children for generations to come. These experts came together to develop big questions about child health, which the ECHO Program aims to answer. They then created the ECHO Protocol to collect the information that will help ECHO answer those big questions.

Collaboration was key in the creation of the ECHO Protocol. ECHO researchers who created the protocol are experts in many different fields, which allowed the ECHO Program to receive input across many topics. Doing this helped ECHO create a protocol that was greater than the sum of its parts – meaning that our researchers are stronger together.

The general public also helped develop the ECHO Protocol during a public comment period. During this period, the ECHO Program invited healthcare professionals, other researchers, and parents to share their comments about the protocol. After many rounds of review and revision, the ECHO Program launched the final protocol in early 2019. Through teamwork, input from the public, and thorough review, the ECHO Protocol is now well-balanced and will allow us to collect the information we need to answer important questions about child health.

What makes the ECHO Protocol Unique?

First, it is large. The ECHO Protocol will collect information from more than 50,000 children and teens, and almost as many pregnant women and caregivers. What else makes it unique

It is diverse:

This protocol includes people of different ages, races, and backgrounds, from more than 44 states across the country, as well as Puerto Rico.

It is inclusive:

The ECHO Program is specifically designed to include people who are not always included in research, such as pregnant women, children, and caregivers.

It studies different areas of child health:
ECHO is not focused on just one area of child health. Instead, it focuses on 5 different areas:

  • Pre/peri/postnatal outcomes – information related to pregnancy and newborns, for example: early birth, infant mortality, and birth defects
  • Obesity – health information related to weight, for example: nutrition, metabolism, and physical activity
  • Neurodevelopment – health information related to the brain, for example: attention, emotions, intelligence, and behavior
  • Upper and lower airways – health information related to breathing, for example: asthma and allergies
  • Positive health – health information related to overall wellbeing

It uses information from existing studies:

The ECHO Program not only will allow researchers to collect new information, but also allows researchers to use information they have already collected in new ways. This allows ECHO to better understand health over long periods of time.