Cincinnati Children’s Receives $4.5 Million in NIH Grants To Study Health Effects of Common Environmental Toxicants

Friday, September 16, 2016

Cincinnati Children’s has received two five-year grants from the National Institutes of Health, totaling $4.5 million, to determine the impact of prenatal and childhood exposure to common environmental toxicants on a variety of child health outcomes.

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) are widely used in flame-retardants, stain repellant textiles, nonstick coatings and food packaging, resulting in accumulation in human bodies. The research will study the effects of these chemicals in children between the ages of 10 and 13 years. 

Participants in the study are the offspring of mothers who were enrolled in the Health Outcomes and Measures of the Environment (HOME) Study during pregnancy. More than 97 percent of participating women had detectable levels of PBDEs and PFCs during pregnancy. This is comparable to nationally reported levels. 

Preliminary findings from the HOME Study suggest exposure to both PBDEs and PFCs may be associated with symptoms of depression and anxiety in school-age children. Exposure to PFCs may be associated with obesity in school-age children.

Animal studies and limited human studies of PBDEs and PFCs have found evidence for developmental neurotoxicity in children, including thyroid hormone disruption, hyperactivity, delay in neuromotor maturation, and impaired cognition.

“Human exposure to man-made chemicals is ever-present, and there is growing concern that exposure to some may be linked with the rise in neurobehavioral problems as well as the risk of obesity by affecting hormonal systems in children,” says Kimberly Yolton, PhD, a researcher at Cincinnati Children’s and a principal investigator in the study.  

“Although some of these chemicals are being voluntarily phased out, humans will still be exposed to PBDEs and PFCs in the environment for decades as these consumer products remain prevalent. The longitudinal design of the HOME Study will allow us to study the impact of exposures that occurred during pregnancy on a range of health outcomes in pre-adolescent children.”

Co-principal investigators are Kim Cecil, PhD, Cincinnati Children’s, and Joseph Braun PhD, Brown University. The study is funded by the NIH’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Families enrolled in the HOME Study interested in scheduling a study visit can contact the research team at 513-636–0453 or 1-866-687-8803.

Contact Information

Jim Feuer
513-636-4656