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Extramural Research

An Integrated Geospatial and Epidemiological Study of Associations Between Birth Defects and Arsenic Exposure in New England

EPA Grant Number: R834599C003
Subproject: this is subproject number 003 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R834599
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Center - Dartmouth College
Center Director: Karagas, Margaret R
Title: An Integrated Geospatial and Epidemiological Study of Associations Between Birth Defects and Arsenic Exposure in New England
Investigators: Karagas, Margaret R
Current Investigators: Shi, Xun , Gui, Jiang , Moeschler, John B , Onega, Tracy , Purvis, Lisa , Rees, Judy
Institution: Dartmouth Medical School , Dartmouth College , Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center , Harvard Medical School , University of Miami
Current Institution: Dartmouth Medical School , Dartmouth College
EPA Project Officer: Callan, Richard
Project Period: February 15, 2010 through February 14, 2013 (Extended to February 14, 2014)
RFA: Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Centers: Formative Centers (with NIEHS) (2009)
Research Category: Children's Health

Description:

Objective:

Arsenic readily crosses the placenta and causes birth defects and developmental changes in animal models. However, few epidemiologic studies exist on the potential harmful effects of arsenic in humans such as malformations and birth defects. Scant prior data from the US and emerging data from Bangladesh suggest a link between drinking water arsenic and occurrence of birth defects. We propose to conduct a pilot study integrating geospatial and epidemiological human health data to characterize the spatial distribution of birth defect occurrence in New England in relation to environmental exposures, in particular inorganic arsenic. In this pilot study, we will: 1) Quantitatively characterize the spatial distribution of birth defect occurrence and determine the presence of any high-risk areas (i.e., birth defect hot spots); 2) Quantitatively evaluate spatial associations between birth defect occurrence and water arsenic concentrations; 3) Conduct a pilot study comparing cases and controls (as a feasibility study) to investigate at the individual level the associations between birth defect occurrence and arsenic and other environmental exposures. Geocoded (location-specific) data on birth defect occurrences will be made available through the New Hampshire Birth Conditions Program.

Expected Results:

We will estimate drinking water arsenic exposure using public databases combined with a large data set of private water systems collected through epidemiologic studies in the state in collaboration with the US Geological Survey (USGS). We will test whether an excess in major and minor birth defects are associated with drinking water arsenic exposure using geographical information systems (GIS) and a specialized software package we designed for a previous study of radon and lung cancer to be extended as part of this pilot study. We will further assess the feasibility of conducting a case-control study of birth defects in the region (i.e., with the collection of individual biomarker data on arsenic), and conduct preliminary analyses of the arsenic-birth defects associations on an individual level. To our knowledge this will be the first attempt of this kind to investigate arsenic exposure and congenital anomalies in a US population.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this subproject: View all 7 publications for this subprojectView all 35 publications for this center

Supplemental Keywords:

Water, drinking water, ground water, exposure, risk, health effects, human health, vulnerability, sensitive populations, population, infants, children, susceptibility, metals, heavy metals, public policy, decision making, community-based, public good, environmental chemistry, biology, geography, human health, environmental management, international cooperation, Scientific Discipline, Health, Risk Assessment, Biology, Children's Health, Biochemistry, Environmental Policy, Environmental Chemistry, Exposure, Environmental Monitoring, exposure assessment, arsenic exposure, birth defects, developmental disorders, perinatal exposure, prenatal exposure, drinking water, dietary exposure, biological markers, growth & development, children's vulnerability, RFA, Health, Scientific Discipline, INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION, ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, HUMAN HEALTH, Environmental Chemistry, Exposure, Children's Health, Environmental Policy, Biology, Risk Assessment, birth defects, prenatal exposure, drinking water, children's vulnerablity, arsenic exposure, biological markers, dietary exposure, growth & development, developmental disorders

Progress and Final Reports:
2010 Progress Report
2012 Progress Report


Main Center Abstract and Reports:
R834599    Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Center - Dartmouth College

Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
R834599C001 Arsenic and Maternal and Infant Immune Function
R834599C002 Food Borne Exposure to Arsenic During the First Year of Life
R834599C003 An Integrated Geospatial and Epidemiological Study of Associations Between Birth Defects and Arsenic Exposure in New England
R834599C004 Determining How Arsenic (As) Modulates Sonic Hedgehog (Shh) Signaling During Development

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The perspectives, information and conclusions conveyed in research project abstracts, progress reports, final reports, journal abstracts and journal publications convey the viewpoints of the principal investigator and may not represent the views and policies of ORD and EPA. Conclusions drawn by the principal investigators have not been reviewed by the Agency.

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