Children’s Health & Environment Study | NYU Langone Health

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Environmental Pediatrics Research Studies Children’s Health & Environment Study

Children’s Health & Environment Study

The Children's Health and Environment Study (CHES), led by Leonardo Trasande, MD, MPP, director of the Division of Environmental Pediatrics at NYU Langone, examines the helpful and harmful effects of environmental exposures on children’s health and development.

VIDEO: Division of Environmental Pediatrics director Dr. Leonardo Trasande discusses his research study investigating how environmental chemicals may affect childhood health.

With funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through its Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) program, we partner with women before and after the birth of their children to collect information about exposures to chemicals and other factors in the environment. These data help us identify the long-term health effects of early-life environmental exposures.

Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes Program

The NIH established the ECHO program, a seven-year research initiative, to support researchers who are already studying the effects of environmental exposures in children over time.

By its nature, the study is a collaborative research endeavor. More than 30 research groups across the United States have received awards. Each group offers unique expertise in outcomes, site coordination, and data analysis. Learn more about the study sites participating in the ECHO program through the NIH’s interactive map of program components.

The ECHO study population is comprised of approximately 50,000 children from diverse racial, socioeconomic, and geographic backgrounds. The environmental exposures we assess are defined broadly as physical, chemical, biological, behavioral, and social factors. We are especially interested in analyzing how these factors affect children’s airways, their risk of obesity, and their neurodevelopment. We collect data before and after birth in order to assess outcomes. The resulting dataset will inform policy leaders in creating new initiatives to protect children.

We launched CHES at NYU Langone by surveying pregnant women. Now, with the support of ECHO, our study follows the children of participants up to age two.

Along with our cohort, we collaborate with The Infant Development and Environment Study (TIDES).

The Infant Development and Environment Study

TIDES is a multicenter study designed to examine how chemicals commonly found in food, cosmetics, and household products may affect a child’s health and development. The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai serves as the data-coordinating hub for four study centers:

  • University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
  • Seattle Children’s Research Institute at University of Washington School of Medicine
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of California, San Francisco

Approximately 800 women enrolled in the initial TIDES cohort between 2010 and 2012. All of the participants were in their first trimester of pregnancy. Participants and their babies were followed until shortly after birth if the baby was a girl, and until age one if the baby was a boy.

Results suggest that prenatal exposure to common chemicals called phthalates in our diets and homes may affect the reproductive development of boys, but not that of girls. These results were affected by the amount of stress reported by the mother during pregnancy.

TIDES received additional funding through an R01 award from the NIH to continue to follow children participating in the study at ages four and six. This continuation, called TIDES II, allows researchers to see how early exposures can shape development in the preschool years.

In addition to the R01 award, TIDES II is now part of ECHO. Dr. Trasande is one of two research awardees of this combined initiative. The other is Catherine Karr, MD, PhD, at the University of Washington.

With this funding, we plan to assess participating children at ages six and nine, examining the effect of prenatal exposures in relation to early-life trajectories of body mass. Participants at age six are being seen for measurements of pulse wave velocity and brachial distensibility, a measure of arterial wall stiffness.

Children’s Health and Environment Study at NYU Langone

Dr. Trasande and his research team in the Division of Environmental Pediatrics are leading CHES to better understand the helpful and harmful effects that environmental elements have on children’s health and development.

We offer women who are pregnant the opportunity to participate in research to examine how maternal exposures to environmental factors may be associated with childhood health conditions such as asthma, obesity, type 2 diabetes, autism spectrum disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Study participants donate small biological samples during pregnancy and at the time of their newborn’s delivery. No needle sticks or uncomfortable procedures are used. Our researchers then analyze these samples in a laboratory.

Women who participate in CHES are also eligible to participate in the NIH ECHO program, joining thousands of women and children from geographically diverse locations throughout the United States. Women who enroll in ECHO continue to participate in our research after the birth of their baby.

Learn more about what to expect as a CHES study participant.