Center for Research on Early Childhood Exposure and Development in Puerto Rico

EPA Grant Number: R836155
Center: Center for Research on Early Childhood Exposure and Development in Puerto Rico
Center Director: Alshawabkeh, Akram
Title: Center for Research on Early Childhood Exposure and Development in Puerto Rico
Investigators: Alshawabkeh, Akram
Institution: Northeastern University
EPA Project Officer: Louie, Nica
Project Period: September 1, 2015 through August 31, 2019
Project Amount: $2,099,537
RFA: Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Centers (2014) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Health , Children's Health

Objective:

The overall goal of this Center is to understand the impact of a mixture of environmental exposures and modifying factors on fetal and early childhood health and development in the children of the heavily-contaminated northern coast of Puerto Rico – an underserved, highly-exposed, and low-income population with significant health disparities. 

Specific Aim 1: Capture the impacts of pollutant exposures (both alone and in combination) that occur through multiple exposure routes and biological pathways on fetal and early childhood health and development.

Specific Aim 2: Evaluate how psychosocial risk factors (e.g. socioeconomic status and maternal stress) may modify these effects.

Specific Aim 3: Elucidate biological mechanisms that may explain mechanistic pathways and mediate these relationships. 

Approach:

To achieve this timely and significant goal, CRECE has developed an innovative and scientifically distinct program that leverages the ongoing cohort study of the PROTECT NIEHS Superfund Research Center; this cohort is following 1800 pregnant Puerto Rican women through childbirth to investigate the relationship between groundwater contamination and the island’s extremely high preterm birth rate. CRECE will initiate a follow-up study of 600 infants born to the PROTECT cohort, for whom a rich prenatal dataset and biological samples already exists, following them from birth to age four. Through a unique and holistic source-to-outcome strategy incorporating three interrelated and transdisciplinary research projects and three cores, CRECE will (1) capture the impacts of pollutant exposures (both alone and in combination) that occur through multiple exposure routes and biological pathways on fetal and early childhood health and development, (2) evaluate how psychosocial risk factors (e.g. socioeconomic status and maternal stress) may modify these effects, and (3) elucidate biological mechanisms that may explain mechanistic pathways and mediate these relationships. The CRECE interdisciplinary team includes environmental epidemiologists, pediatricians, environmental scientists/engineers, exposure scientists, sociologists, social workers, biostatisticians, toxicologists, and communication neuroscientists (many of whom have previously collaborated through PROTECT). 

CRECE will answer important research questions: What are the combined effects of intrauterine and early childhood exposure to multiple pollutants on children’s health and development in a highly exposed population? What are the mechanisms by which these effects occur? How do psychosocial factors modify the effects of environmental chemical exposures? Can exposure biomarkers be developed to capture multipollutant and multi-pathway exposures for health effect investigations? The answers to these questions, along with the innovative tools and methods developed to answer them, will advance the science of children’s environmental health by improving our understanding of the effects of the total environment on at-risk as well as general populations with multiple exposures. The proposed work will inform future clinical intervention, risk assessment, and policy-setting efforts for both this at-risk, vulnerable population and the U.S. as a whole.

Rationale:

Exposure to multiple chemicals in the environment during critical fetal and childhood development periods is an important yet understudied area of public health, particularly when coupled with psychosocial risk factors that may modify the effects of these exposures. To address this gap, the Center for Research on Early Childhood Exposure and Development in Puerto Rico (CRECE) will study the impact of a mixture of environmental exposures and modifying factors on fetal and early childhood health and development in the children of the heavily-contaminated northern coast of Puerto Rico – an underserved, highly-exposed, and low-income population with significant health disparities. 


Journal Articles: 10 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other center views: All 25 publications 10 publications in selected types All 10 journal articles
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Journal Article Aker AM, Watkins DJ, Johns LE, Ferguson KK, Soldin OP, Anzalota Del Toro LV, Alshawabkeh AN, Cordero JF, Meeker JD. Phenols and parabens in relation to reproductive and thyroid hormones in pregnant women. Environmental Research 2016;151:30-37. R836155 (2017)
R836155C003 (2017)
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  • Journal Article Ferguson KK, Cantonwine DE, McElrath TF, Mukherjee B, Meeker JD. Repeated measures analysis of associations between urinary bisphenol-A concentrations and biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress in pregnancy. Reproductive Toxicology 2016;66:93-98. R836155 (2017)
    R836155C003 (2017)
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  • Journal Article Ferguson KK, Meeker JD, Cantonwine DE, Chen Y-H, Mukherjee B, McElrath TF. Urinary phthalate metabolite and bisphenol A associations with ultrasound and delivery indices of fetal growth. Environment International 2016;94:531-537. R836155 (2017)
    R836155C003 (2017)
    R835436 (2016)
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  • Journal Article Johns LE, Ferguson KK, Meeker JD. Relationships between urinary phthalate metabolite and bisphenol A concentrations and vitamin D levels in U.S. adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2005-2010. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 2016;101(11):4062-4069. R836155 (2017)
    R836155C003 (2017)
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  • Journal Article Lan J, Gou N, Rahman SM, Gao C, He M, Gu AZ. A quantitative toxicogenomics assay for high-throughput and mechanistic genotoxicity assessment and screening of environmental pollutants. Environmental Science & Technology 2016;50(6):3202-3214. R836155C002 (2016)
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  • Journal Article Lewis RC, Johns LE, Meeker JD. Serum biomarkers of exposure to perfluoroalkyl substances in relation to serum testosterone and measures of thyroid function among adults and adolescents from NHANES 2011-2012. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 2015;12(6):6098-6114. R836155C003 (2017)
    R835436 (2014)
    R835436 (2015)
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  • Journal Article Watkins DJ, Fortenberry GZ, Sanchez BN, Barr DB, Panuwet P, Schnaas L, Osorio-Valencia E, Solano-Gonzalez M, Ettinger AS, Hernandez-Avila M, Hu H, Tellez-Rojo MM, Meeker JD. Urinary 3-phenoxybenzoic acid (3-PBA) levels among pregnant women in Mexico City: distribution and relationships with child neurodevelopment. Environmental Research 2016;147:307-313. R836155 (2017)
    R836155C003 (2017)
    R835436 (2015)
    R835436 (2016)
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  • Journal Article Yuan Y, Meeker JD, Ferguson KK. Serum polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) concentrations in relation to biomarkers of oxidative stress and inflammation: the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003-2004. Science of the Total Environment 2017;575:400-405. R836155 (2017)
    R836155C003 (2017)
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  • Journal Article Watkins DJ, Ferguson KK, Anzalota Del Toro LV, Alshawabkeh AN, Cordero JF, Meeker JD. Associations between urinary phenol and paraben concentrations and markers of oxidative stress and inflammation among pregnant women in Puerto Rico. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health 2015;218(2):212-219. R836155C003 (2017)
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  • Journal Article Cantonwine DE, Ferguson KK, Mukherjee B, McElrath TF, Meeker JD. Urinary bisphenol A levels during pregnancy and risk of preterm birth. Environmental Health Perspectives 2015;123(9):895-901. R836155C003 (2017)
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  • Progress and Final Reports:

    2016 Progress Report
    2017 Progress Report

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R836155C001 Air Pollution Impacts on Neonatal and Early Childhood Development
    R836155C002 Toxicogenomics-based Mechanistic Multimedia Exposure Assessment and Child Development
    R836155C003 Biomarker Epidemiology of In Utero Environmental Exposures and Child Development