Microbiome, Environment, and Neurodevelopmental Delay (MEND)

EPA Grant Number: R836153C002
Subproject: this is subproject number 002 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R836153
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: Center for Children’s Health, the Environment, Microbiome, and Metabolomics’ Center
Center Director: McCauley, Linda
Title: Microbiome, Environment, and Neurodevelopmental Delay (MEND)
Investigators: Mahoney, Ashley Darcy , Brennan, Patricia A. , Kugathasan, Subramaniam
Institution: Emory University
EPA Project Officer: Louie, Nica
Project Period: September 1, 2015 through August 31, 2019
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 project is to investigate whether the composition of the infant gut microbiome associates with exposure to prenatal and postnatal environmental toxicants and contributes to adverse neurocognitive and social-emotional outcomes for AA infants.

Specific Aim 1: Evaluate associations between prenatal and postnatal exposures to environmental toxicants and the composition of the infant gut microbiome.

Specific Aim 2: Evaluate infant neurodevelopmental outcomes associated with prenatal and postnatal exposures to environmental toxicants.

Specific Aim 3: Evaluate the potential moderating influences of the microbiome and maternal caregiving on the relationship between postnatal toxicant exposures and infant neurocognitive and social-emotional development.

Approach:

This project will investigate whether the composition of the infant gut microbiome associates with exposure to prenatal and postnatal environmental toxicants and contributes to adverse neurocognitive and social-emotional outcomes for AA infants over the first 18- months of life. To accomplish this, we will leverage data from an on-going longitudinal study of preterm birth in AA women that is enrolling a socioeconomically diverse cohort of ≈ 800 pregnant AA women and following them at 8-14 and 24-30 weeks’ gestation through delivery. This proposed study of postnatal infant development will recruit mother-infant pairs post-delivery from the mothers enrolled in the existing Parent Study and Project 1 (aimed at characterizing pre- and postnatal exposures to environmental toxicants) in order to evaluate for the birthed AA infants, from 1-week through 18-months of age: (1) associations between prenatal and postnatal exposures to environmental toxicants and the composition of the infant gut microbiome; (2) infant neurodevelopmental outcomes associated with prenatal and postnatal exposures to environmental toxicants; and (3) the potential moderating influences of the microbiome and maternal caregiving on the relationship between postnatal toxicant exposures and infant neurocognitive and social-emotional development. Atlanta is home to AA women of broad socioeconomic status, providing a diverse sample of AA families, which allows for sufficient variation in the environmental factors under study to distinguish their independent and interactive effects on the microbiome and infant neurocognitive and socioemotional development. Because many factors that influence the microbiome are modifiable, the knowledge gained by achieving our Aims holds potential for promoting the health of the next generation of AA families.

Rationale:

Compared to infants of other races, African American (AA) infants are more likely to be exposed to environmental toxicants, to be born preterm, and to reside in poverty, whereas they are less likely to be breastfed. These disparities translate into higher risks for neurocognitive and social-emotional developmental delays. The microbiome – which influences the brain through hormonal, and immunologic pathways – is receiving growing attention as an important contributor to neurodevelopment. The gut microbiome is established at birth from maternal flora and varies according to perinatal factors such as mode of delivery (vaginal vs. Cesarean), gestational age and size, type of feeding (breast vs. bottle), and antibiotic exposure. Thereafter, diet, illness, vaccination, and antibiotic exposures further influence microbiome development. Thus, prenatal and postnatal exposures that affect the microbiome-gut-brain axis in the critical first years of life may significantly impact the developing brain. Although the microbiome resides at the interface between environmental exposures and the human host, the impact of environmental exposures on the microbiome remain largely unexplored. 

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this subproject: View all 6 publications for this subprojectView all 41 publications for this center

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this subproject: View all 4 journal articles for this subprojectView all 6 journal articles for this center

Relevant Websites:

Center for Children's Health, the Environment, the Microbiome and Metabolomics Exit

Progress and Final Reports:

2016 Progress Report
2017 Progress Report


Main Center Abstract and Reports:

R836153    Center for Children’s Health, the Environment, Microbiome, and Metabolomics’ Center

Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
R836153C001 Characterizing Exposures and Outcomes in an Urban Birth Cohort (CHERUB)
R836153C002 Microbiome, Environment, and Neurodevelopmental Delay (MEND)
R836153C003 Metabolic, Microbiome and Toxicant-Related Interactions (MATRIX)