2004 Progress Report: Metals, Nutrition, and Stress in Child Development

EPA Grant Number: R831725C001
Subproject: this is subproject number 001 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R831725
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: Harvard Center for Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research
Center Director: Hu, Howard
Title: Metals, Nutrition, and Stress in Child Development
Investigators: Wright, Robert , Bellinger, David , Hatley, Earl
Current Investigators: Wright, Robert
Institution: Harvard University
EPA Project Officer: Callan, Richard
Project Period: June 1, 2004 through May 31, 2009 (Extended to May 31, 2011)
Project Period Covered by this Report: June 1, 2004 through May 31, 2005
RFA: Centers for Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research (2003) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Children's Health , Human Health


The objectives of this research project are to:  (1) devise a community-based participatory epidemiologic study that examines biological markers of fetal and early childhood exposure to metals (lead, manganese, cadmium, and iron), their impact on measures of mental development, and their response to a quasi-experimental randomized trial of nutritional and behavioral interventions; and (2) explore potential effect of stress from living near toxic waste.

Progress Summary:

This study involves a continuation and expansion of a cohort enrolled through the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) Superfund Community- Based Prevention and Intervention Research (CBPIR) project on hearing and birth outcomes.  In that project, we have enrolled 343 mother-infant pairs in total and have collected blood samples, hearing test data, and survey data.  For this new project, we will measure additional metals (arsenic and cadmium), maternal psychosocial effects, and neurologic health outcomes in a followup of the Superfund birth cohort.  To date, we have applied for and received Institutional Review Board approval to measure maternal stress at delivery and during follow-up visits, as well as hair As and urine Cd.  In October, we brought our research associates (Mary Happy [the site coordinator] and Karen Fields) to Boston and trained them in administering the A-Not-B and Delayed Spatial Alternation neurocognitive tests.  We have developed our instruments for measuring nutritional intake and environmental exposures and are developing a study protocol.  We now are finalizing our standard operating procedures manual and should be finished by the end of February or mid-March.  We plan to begin data collection at that time.  We now are interviewing in Oklahoma to hire additional onsite research associates.  In the meantime, the data collected through the Superfund CBPIR will lay the foundation for the Children’s Center follow-up studies and research on neurodevelopmental outcomes.


We have laid a solid foundation for this CBPIR project.  Our current recruitment of 343 mothers represents a significant sample size to study neurodevelopmental effects from exposure to metal mixtures.  As part of the Children’s Center grant, we will be measuring hair As and urine Cd on study participants and will include these measures in our health outcomes analyses.  We are in the process of hiring additional field staff to enable us to track more effectively the followup of enrolled subjects.  The exposure assessment data collected in Project 2 will be analyzed in Year 2 of this project to allow us to develop the intervention protocol for Year 3.

Future Activities:

We plan to start data collection by late winter/early spring.  Data will include hair As and urine Cd, maternal stress measures, as well as neurodevelopmental tests (Bayley Scale, A-Not-B test, Delayed Spatial Alternation).  We have completed geographical information systems (GIS) mapping of the chat piles this past year and will use these data to determine spatial relationships between biomarkers of metal exposure and chat piles.  As part of the Children’s Center, we also will address whether chat pile proximity is associated with psychosocial health outcomes, such as depression.  We plan to work with the outreach core and Susan Waldron of the Ottawa County Health Department to develop information packets on As, Pb, Mn, and Cd toxicity for distribution to community members.

Journal Articles:

No journal articles submitted with this report: View all 20 publications for this subproject

Supplemental Keywords:

children, Native American, tribal mixtures, lead, PBPK, community, Superfund, intervention, environmental management,, RFA, Health, Scientific Discipline, INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION, ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, Waste, Environmental Chemistry, Health Risk Assessment, Hazardous Waste, Biochemistry, Children's Health, Hazardous, Risk Assessment, community-based intervention, fate and transport , epidemiology, developmental toxicity, biological response, Human Health Risk Assessment, neurodevelopmental toxicity, children's environmental health, mining waste, metal wastes, metals, human health risk, metal contamination, mining wastes

Relevant Websites:

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/niehs/children Exit

Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract
  • 2005 Progress Report
  • 2006
  • 2007 Progress Report
  • 2008 Progress Report
  • 2009
  • Final

  • Main Center Abstract and Reports:

    R831725    Harvard Center for Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R831725C001 Metals, Nutrition, and Stress in Child Development
    R831725C002 Exposure Assessment of Children and Metals in Mining Waste: Composition, Environmental Transport, and Exposure Patterns
    R831725C003 Manganese, Iron, Cadmium, and Lead Transport from the Environment to Critical Organs During Gestation and Early Development in a Rat Model
    R831725C004 Metals Neurotoxicity Research Project