It’s long been suspected that children are the most susceptible to environmental factors that adversely impact health. Now the largest study ever undertaken exploring just how is underway.
100,000 children will be followed from their first trimester before birth until age 21 as part of the ambitious National Children’s Study.
Researchers will look at whether exposure to environmental toxins such as plastics, fertilizers, and household chemicals, as well as diet interacts with genetics to adversely affect a child’s developing health.
Phthalates and other hormone-disrupting chemicals are found in thousands of everyday consumer items such as food and beverage containers, bug spray, shower curtains, perfume, pesticides and plastics.
The research is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The impact of environmental pollution on conditions such as autism, asthma, cerebral palsy, diabetes, and attention deficit disorder could begin to be available in three to five years.
Dr. Philip Landrigan of Mount Siniai School of Medicine in New York says the researchers will look for preventable factors.
"We are embarking on the road to discovering the preventable causes of the major chronic diseases that plague American children today," Dr. Philip Landrigan of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, one of the lead researchers, said to NPR.
A rising number of child disorders are believed to originate with environmental causes, as well many adult diseases that begin in childhood.
Pregnant women who live in 105 diverse areas that have been identified by a mathematical model will be recruited to participate and will be given compensation.
The areas represent environmental and demographic differences such as Queens, New York, and Duplin County, North Carolina.
Participation requires health interviews through pregnancy. Examinations including hair, blood and urine samples, and collection of water and dust in the homes. Babies will be checked regularly during the first years of life, then about every three years.
The National Children’s Study has been a decade in the planning stage but has been delayed by funding.
Results should form the basis of child health guidance and policy for generations to come.
Bisphenol A or BPA has been a suspected endocrine disruptor since pioneer zoologist, Theo Colburn began following the chemical train in her landmark book, Our Stolen Future (Dutton, 1996; Plume 1997), where she explored the many examples of plasticizers acting as a synthetic form of estrogen that disrupt the normal sexual development among wildlife.
Over 2.2 million tons is produced each year and resides in the majority of people and 80,000 chemicals are registered for use in the U.S. with more than 2,000 new ones introduced every year, all falling under the watch of the National Toxicology Program.
More than six billion pounds of bisphenol are produced in the U.S. each year by Dow Chemical, Bayer AG and others. #