The Role of Endocrine Disruptors in Childhood Obesity

EPA Grant Number: R834509C001
Subproject: this is subproject number 001 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R834509
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: The Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health
Center Director: Perera, Frederica P.
Title: The Role of Endocrine Disruptors in Childhood Obesity
Investigators: Perera, Frederica P.
Current Investigators: Rundle, Andrew , Whyatt, Robin M.
Institution: Columbia University in the City of New York
Current Institution: Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health
EPA Project Officer: Callan, Richard
Project Period: September 24, 2009 through September 23, 2014 (Extended to September 23, 2015)
RFA: Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Centers: Formative Centers (with NIEHS) (2009) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Children's Health , Health


The specific aims are to evaluate whether prenatal and early-life exposures to the endocrine disruptors, bisphenol A (BPA) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), during pregnancy and early-childhood are associated with obesity and metabolic syndrome among children during early adolescence. The research will be conducted within the ongoing longitudinal birth cohort of African American and Dominican children from inner-city communities in New York City being conducted by the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health. BPA and PAH exposures are widespread among cohort mothers and children. Both compounds have been linked to obesity and metabolic syndrome in experimental and preliminary human studies. The research is timely; childhood obesity is increasing rapidly within the United States, with rates highest among minority populations. By age 5 years, 43% of our cohort children exceed the 85% of weight for age. The epidemic is likely to have significant public health implications, particularity among minority populations, as obesity is linked to risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. We propose to follow the children in the cohort to age 8-10 years and will assess height, weight, and body composition at ages 5, 7 and 8-10 years and metabolic syndrome components at ages 8-10. Exposure dosimeters are PAH concentrations in maternal prenatal personal air samples and PAH and BPA metabolites concentrations in urine samples collected and stored from the mother during pregnancy and from the child at ages 3,5, and 7 years.

Expected Results:

We hypothesize that prenatal exposure to PAH and BPA (1) will be associated with higher weight gain trajectories from age 5 to 8-10, and at age 8-10 years with BMI z-score, fat mass and metabolic syndrome components and (2) will alter the methylation status of key genes involved in adiposeness and hunger control measured in umbilical cord while blood cells, which will mediate the association between postnatal exposures to the endocrine disruptors and childhood obesity outcomes. The research will provide important data on whether prenatal/early-life exposures to endocrine disruptors predicts childhood obesity/metabolic syndrome and will test hypotheses regarding underlying epigenetic mechanisms.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this subproject: View all 19 publications for this subprojectView all 97 publications for this center

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this subproject: View all 7 journal articles for this subprojectView all 53 journal articles for this center

Supplemental Keywords:

Ambient air, human health, toxic, public policy, community-based, ethnic groups, susceptibility, epidemiology, Northeast,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Health, INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION, ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, POLLUTANTS/TOXICS, Chemicals, Biochemistry, Children's Health, Environmental Policy, Biology, Risk Assessment, health effects, air toxics, developmental neurotoxicity, air pollution, childhood obesity, endocrine disruptors, assessment of exposure, children's vulnerablity, children's environmental health, growth & development

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2010
  • 2011
  • 2012 Progress Report
  • 2013
  • 2014
  • Final Report

  • Main Center Abstract and Reports:

    R834509    The Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R834509C001 The Role of Endocrine Disruptors in Childhood Obesity
    R834509C002 The Role of Endocrine Disruptors in Neurodevelopmental Disorders
    R834509C003 The Mechanisms of Endocrine Disruptors in Laboratory Mice