As a developmental psychologist and epidemiologist, I’m interested in exposures and experiences that may alter a child’s developmental trajectory from infancy through adolescence. I collaborate on research projects on typical child development as well as those focused on the impact of exposures to environmental toxicants, opiates and stress during early development.
Early in my research, I studied prenatal exposure to drugs like cocaine and opiates on infant and child neurobehavioral outcomes, and then I discovered the impact that tobacco smoke can have on a child’s health and development. Studying tobacco smoke led to exploration of other environmental toxicants like metals, industrial chemicals and air pollution. I always balance my studies by accounting for other factors, such as stress, poverty and caregiver characteristics as they are also critical contributors to a child’s development.
Through a pregnancy and birth cohort study from Cincinnati, we have studied a variety of common environmental toxicants — tobacco smoke, air pollution, pesticides and industrial chemicals — and how they may impact child neurobehavior, health and neuroimaging outcomes. We completed our most recent follow-up on the children in 2019, at age 12. We are awaiting funding decisions that will extend our follow-up to late adolescence.
I also collaborate with investigators from multiple institutions, both domestically and internationally, regarding neurobehavioral assessments and staff training strategies. We work to acquire the most appropriate outcome measures with the highest standards of reliability and validity. My ultimate goal is to identify short- and long-term neurobehavioral outcomes among infants and children from a variety of samples, advancing our understanding of developmental trajectories and factors that may alter outcomes.
As director of research for the Division of General and Community Pediatrics, I interact with researchers of all levels, providing support and guidance as they plan their projects. I am associate director of our National Research Service Award Fellowship in General Pediatrics, and I serve as training faculty on three T32 fellowship grants and for the Medical Scientist Training Program. I also hold a secondary appointment at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in the Department of Environmental and Public Health Sciences. These roles allow me to interact with medical students, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty, providing mentorship and research guidance.
I have been a researcher for more than 28 years and started working at Cincinnati Children’s in 2000. Some highlights of my research career include:
PhD: Family Relations & Human Development, Developmental Psychology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, 1992.
Fellowship: Pediatric Environmental Health, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH, 2000-2003.
Infant and child development and behavior; environmental exposures
General and Community Pediatrics
Early exposure to flame retardants is prospectively associated with anxiety symptoms in adolescents: A prospective birth cohort study. Depression and Anxiety. 2022; 39:780-793.
Gestational exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers and social skills and problem behaviors in adolescents: The HOME study. Environmental International. 2022; 159.
Associations Between Early Low-Level Tobacco Smoke Exposure and Executive Function at Age 8 Years. Journal of Pediatrics. 2020; 221:174-180.e1.
lifetime exposure to traffic-related air pollution and symptoms of depression and anxiety at age 12 years. Environmental Research. 2019; 173:199-206.
Early infant attention as a predictor of social and communicative behavior in childhood. International Journal of Behavioral Development. 2019; 43:204-211.
Cohort Profile: The Health Outcomes and Measures of the Environment (HOME) study. International Journal of Epidemiology. 2017; 46.
Prenatal polybrominated diphenyl ether exposures and neurodevelopment in U.S. children through 5 years of age: the HOME study. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2014; 122:856-862.
Exposure to neurotoxicants and the development of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and its related behaviors in childhood. Neurotoxicology and Teratology. 2014; 44:30-45.
Prenatal exposure to bisphenol A and phthalates and infant neurobehavior. Neurotoxicology and Teratology. 2011; 33:558-566.
Associations between secondhand smoke exposure and sleep patterns in children. Pediatrics. 2010; 125:e261-e268.
Kimberly Yolton, PhD7/11/2022
Kimberly Yolton, PhD, Cole Brokamp, PhD3/24/2021
Kimberly Yolton, PhD, Kim M. Cecil, PhD3/2/2021
Kimberly Yolton, PhD6/25/2019