Columbia Children’s Environmental Health Research Center Featured in Discover Magazine
(March 2, 2006)
The March 2006 issue of Discover magazine features research from the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health, based at the Columbia University School of Public Health in New York City. The article entitled “Toxic Inheritance: Is There Cancer in this Photo?” describes the “Mothers and Newborns Study” that enrolled over 700 women from North Manhattan and the South Bronx. Scientists monitored the exposure of these women to airborne chemicals during their pregnancies and tested and tracked their children after they were born. Results from the study highlighted in the article show a link between exposures to urban air pollution containing combustion byproducts including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and lower birth weights and smaller head circumferences in some infants. In a smaller group of pregnant women, the study also shows a link between exposure to air pollution containing PAHs and chromosomal aberrations in their infants, potentially indicating a higher risk of cancer. Another result indicates that prenatal exposure to ETS is a risk factor for lower birth weight and, in over 30% of the children, reduced scores on a cognitive development test at two years of age. The article also profiles the career of Principal Investigator Frederica Perera, how she became interested in exploring possible links between exposure to air pollution, biomarkers of genetic susceptibility and cancer, and how she became one of the pioneering researchers in the field of molecular epidemiology. This research is supported by EPA, NIEHS, the Pew Charitable Trust and other charitable funding sources.
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