Laws Governing NICHD's Activities

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U.S. Capitol Building. Credit: Architect of the Capitol

The U.S. Code includes all of the laws of the United States. The sections of the U.S. Code listed below are relevant to NICHD and its activities, and these are still in effect.

These provisions of Federal law do one of three things: They direct NICHD to do something; they name NICHD as a participant in an activity; or they direct an agency to do something in which the NICHD participates.

The following provisions are referenced by section number in the U.S. Code. When applicable, another reference in parentheses points to the relevant section of the Public Health Service Act.

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs)

Adolescent Health

Child Health and Pediatrics

  • 42 USC 285g-7 (Sec. 452C): Child Heath Research Centers. Established NICHD-funded research centers aimed at improving the care of infants and children.
  • 42 USC 283d (Sec. 404B): Children's Vaccine Initiative. Directed the HHS Secretary, in coordination with the National Vaccine Program and several NIH Institutes including NICHD, to conduct activities that support improved and new vaccines to prevent infectious diseases.
  • 42 USC 4321: Congressional Declaration of Purpose: Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. Established the Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics and directed the Forum to collaborate with NICHD to publish biennial Reports of the most important indicators of the well-being of the nation's children.
  • 26 USC 9008: Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act. Established a 10-Year Pediatric Research Initiative Fund within the NIH Common Fund. The Kids First program is developing data resources for the pediatric research community on childhood cancers and structural birth defects. 
  • 42 USC 285g-10 (Sec. 452G): Investment in Tomorrow's Pediatric Researchers. Directed NICHD to support and increase the number and size of institutional training grants supporting pediatric training.
  • 42 USC 288-2 (Sec. 487F): Extramural Loan Repayment Program.  Established a program to allow the Federal government to repay educational loans of pediatric researchers.
  • 42 USC 285g - Subpart 7 (Footnote 34): National Children's Study. Directed NICHD to conduct a longitudinal study of environmental influences on children's health and development.
  • 42 USC 282 (Sec. 402): Pediatric Inclusion in Clinical Research. Directed NIH to collect information on demographic variables, such as women, minorities, and relevant age categories (ex. pediatric subgroups), in clinical research. NIH also was directed by P.L. 114-255 to hold a workshop within 180 days of enactment to provide input on age groupings for inclusion in clinical research.
  • 42 USC 284h (Sec. 409D): Pediatric Research Initiative. Directed the HHS Secretary to conduct and support research related to diseases, disorders, and other conditions in children. The initiative should be led by the NIH Director in consultation with NICHD and other Institutes.
  • 42 USC 284m (Sec 409I): Program for the Pediatric Studies of Drugs.  As part of the Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act, created a program of research at the NIH to prioritize pediatric therapeutic needs and support pediatric clinical trials on drugs used in pediatric populations. 

Clinical Research

Contraception and Infertility


  • 42 USC 285c-4 (Sec. 430): Advisory Boards. Named NICHD as a member of the National Diabetes Advisory Board.


  • 20 USC 9516: National Board for Education Sciences. Established the National Board for Education Sciences within the U.S. Department of Education's Institute for Educational Sciences and named NICHD as a non-voting member.
  • 20 USC 9518: Agreements. Encouraged the Institute for Educational Sciences to collaborate on research projects with agencies that have common interests, such as the NICHD. 

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

  • 42 USC 290bb-25c (Sec. 519C): Services for Individuals with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Directed the HHS Secretary to provide services for individuals diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome or alcohol-related birth defects. Funding was authorized for coordination activities to NICHD and other Federal agencies.

Fetal Research

  • 42 USC 289g (Sec. 498): Fetal Research. Prohibited the HHS Secretary from conducting or supporting any research or experimentation on a non-viable (or viability cannot be ascertained), living human fetus ex utero (outside of the womb) unless the research may enhance the well-being or health of the fetus.

Fetal Tissue Research

Fetal Tissue Transplantation Research

Fragile X Syndrome

  • 42 USC 285g-9 (Sec. 452E): Fragile X. Expanded NICHD research on Fragile X syndrome and requires the NICHD to establish "at least three" Fragile X Syndrome Research Centers.


Institute Name, Purpose, and Organization

  • 42 USC 285g (Sec. 448): Purpose of the Institute. Provided legislative authority for NICHD to conduct and support "research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs with respect to gynecologic health, maternal health, child health, intellectual disabilities, human growth and development, including prenatal development, population research, and special health problems and requirements of mothers and children."
  • 42 USC 285g - Subpart 7 (Footnote 35): Explained that "Eunice Kennedy Shriver" was added by Congress to any reference in law that mentions NICHD.
  • 42 USC 281 (Sec. 401): Organization of the NIH. Identified NICHD as one of the 27 national research institutes at NIH.

Intellectual Disabilities

Muscular Dystrophy (MD)

  • 42 USC 283g (Sec. 404E): Muscular Dystrophy: Initiative through Director of NIH. Instructed the NIH Director, through several Institutes including NICHD, to expand and coordinate research on MD, and required NIH to support centers of excellence and lead an interagency coordinating committee on MD.

Rehabilitation Research

  • 42 USC 285g-4 (Sec. 452): National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR). Established the NCMRR within NICHD to support research and training concerning the rehabilitation of individuals with physical disabilities, and coordinate activities across NIH and the Federal government. Also established the Medical Rehabilitation Advisory Board to make recommendations regarding the research plan for the Center's activities. This section of the U.S. Code was revised in 2016 by P.L. 114-255 to require publication of a Research Plan at least every five years, improve coordination activities, and define medical rehabilitation research.

Newborn Screening

  • 42 USC 300b-15: Hunter Kelly Research Program. Directed the HHS Secretary, through the NIH Director, to continue carrying out, coordinating, and expanding research in newborn screening (to be known as the "Hunter Kelly Newborn Screening Research Program").

Obstetrics and Gynecology



  • 42 USC 285b-7 (Sec. 424): National Center on Sleep Disorders Research. Established a National Center on Sleep Disorders Research within the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and directed the NIH Director to establish an advisory board of representatives from other Institutes, including NICHD.


  • 15 USC 1341: Smoking Research, Education and Information. Directed the HHS Secretary to inform the public about the dangers of smoking tobacco, established the Interagency Committee on Smoking and Health, and suggested NICHD as a Committee member. 

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS):

  • 42 USC 285g-1 (Sec. 449): SIDS. Instructed NICHD to support research on SIDS.
  • 42 USC 300c-12 (Sec. 1122): SIDS Research. Directed the HHS Secretary to ensure that NICHD supports and conducts research and other activities related to identifying infants at-risk for SIDS and preventing SIDS.
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