2009 Progress Report: Geographic Information System and Statistical Analysis Core

EPA Grant Number: R833293C005
Subproject: this is subproject number 005 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R833293
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: Southern Center on Environmentally Driven Disparities in Birth Outcomes
Center Director: Miranda , Marie Lynn
Title: Geographic Information System and Statistical Analysis Core
Investigators: Gelfand, Alan , Ashley-Koch, Allison , Miranda , Marie Lynn , Reiter, Jerome
Current Investigators: Gelfand, Alan , Ashley-Koch, Allison , Goodall, Jonathan , Miranda , Marie Lynn , Reiter, Jerome
Institution: Duke University
EPA Project Officer: Callan, Richard
Project Period: May 1, 2007 through April 30, 2012 (Extended to April 30, 2014)
Project Period Covered by this Report: May 1, 2009 through April 30,2010
RFA: Centers for Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research (2005) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Children's Health , Health Effects , Health


The overall objective of the GIS and Statistical Analysis Core is to support spatial and quantitative analysis needs of the Center research projects, as well as the Community Outreach and Translation Core. Our specific aims include:  

  1. Providing support for the development of environmental and social data layers needed to implement data analyses required for the research projects and the Community Outreach and Translation Core;
  2. Providing statistical analysis, advice, and consulting on the broad range of statistical issues that arise in conjunction with the research projects, with a particular emphasis on data reduction methods and modeling spatial and spatio-temporal data within a Bayesian framework; and, 
  3. Providing analysis for the unique needs of genetic data arising from the clinical and animal studies of the center.  

This support core facilitates the development of innovative quantitative methodology for children’s environmental health research associated with the projects and cores. Equally important, it will enhance substantive collaboration between statisticians and scientists involved in the research projects yielding improved analyses of research core data, as well as novel statistical modeling.

Progress Summary:

In the third year of the project, the GISSA Core has continued to focus on developing the data warehouse providing underlying support for all other Center components. We have acquired and georeferenced additional detailed birth record data, continued genotyping blood samples from the participants in Project R833293C002, and continued providing data management support as Project R833293C002 continues to enroll additional participants.

We now have in hand identified North Carolina Detailed Birth Records (DBR) at the individual subject level, giving us access to 18 years of birth data covering 1990-2008. The DBR is compiled from questionnaires obtained at the time of birth certificate filing and includes elements essential to our proposed analyses. Available variables include, inter alia: maternal residence and state and country of birth; marital status; maternal and paternal race, Hispanic ethnicity, and education; alcohol and tobacco use; plurality; parity; maternal complications; congenital anomalies; whether an infant death certificate was filed; and infant birth weight and gestational age. All 18 years of data have been integrated and standardized to facilitate data linkages and statistical analysis.

In addition to incorporating the most recently available North Carolina DBR data into the GISSA Core data warehouse, we have also worked to acquire additional birth data that will enhance various research projects across SCEDDBO.  We have received historical NC DBR data for 1978-1989. Although this data does not contain all the detail available in more recent years, such historical data will enable us to examine trends in birth outcomes across the state. Additionally, we have initiated communication with the vital records offices of the other states in Region 4 in order to explore the acquisition of birth data in these states.

We have expanded the environmental data layers available for use through the SCEDDBO data warehouse. These include spatial data on road intensity, criteria air pollutants from the USEPA’s AQS system, water quality, environmental releases documented in the Toxics Release Inventory, and housing quality.

We have developed methods for linking the North Carolina DBR data with participant data from Project R833293C002. All participants who delivered between 2005 and 2008 have been successfully matched to their corresponding record in the DBR. This linkage will allow us to examine how accurately the administrative dataset (DBR) captures key information, as well as undertake analysis of residential mobility during pregnancy. In addition, as more years of DBR data become available, we will be able to find future births to Project R833293C002 participants and examine internatal spacing and subsequent pregnancy outcomes.

To date, we have genotyped 1243 blood samples from pregnant women for 405 Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) in fifty-one genes, primarily involved in either metabolism of heavy metals or immune response. In addition, we have generated the Illumina African American Admixture Chip on 824 NHB women. With these data now available, we have begun statistical analysis looking at environmental and genetic contributions and interactions to pregnancy outcomes. These results are discussed in the Project R833293C002 report. We anticipate further genotyping and statistical analysis in the coming year.

Collaborations with other SCEDDBO Components

By its nature, the GISSA Core is highly involved in collaborations across all Center components.  We are working with the investigators of Project R833293C001 to determine what spatial data layers need to be developed and at what spatial scales. We are also expanding and supporting the data architecture to facilitate linkages of the data compiled by Projects R833293C002 and R833293C003 in order to create opportunities for synergies across projects. 

Future Activities:

We will continue developing and expanding the geospatial data warehouse that supports analysis among various projects. The GIS team will continue working with investigators in Projects R833293C001 and R833293C002 to develop a comprehensive list of environmental spatial data layers of interest, as well as a plan for prioritizing the development of this crucial dataset.

We will continue analyses on approximately 1,200 Project R833293C002 participants with complete pregnancy data, genetic results, and environmental results. Analyses will look at the joint impact of environmental, social, and host factors on birth outcomes, especially as they differ by and within race. Identification of such co-exposures could lead to development and implementation of strategies to prevent adverse birth outcomes, ultimately decreasing or eliminating the racial disparity. We will also continue to generate imputed datasets based on the methodology developed by the GISSA Core, in order to handle missing data. 

As Project R833293C002 continues to enroll participants, maternal blood samples will be analyzed for genetic  and gene x environment associations with adverse birth outcomes. Additional genotyping will involve genes in the maternal stress response and vascular/endothelial cell dysfunction pathways. Statistical analysis regarding candidate gene polymorphisms has already begun and will continue in Year 4. 

Supplemental Keywords:

Data fusion, meta analysis, disparities, spatial disaggregation, spatial interpolation, spatial modeling 

Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract
  • 2007
  • 2008
  • 2010
  • 2011
  • 2012
  • Final Report

  • Main Center Abstract and Reports:

    R833293    Southern Center on Environmentally Driven Disparities in Birth Outcomes

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R833293C001 Research Project A: Mapping Disparities in Birth Outcomes
    R833293C002 Research Project B: Healthy Pregnancy, Healthy Baby: Studying Racial Disparities in Birth Outcomes
    R833293C003 Research Project C: Perinatal Environmental Exposure Disparity and Neonatal Respiratory Health
    R833293C004 Community Outreach and Translation Core
    R833293C005 Geographic Information System and Statistical Analysis Core