Children’s Health Research 2012 ppt

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Volume 3 | Number 4 | October 2012 Children’s Health Research Table of Contents About this Issue 1 In the News 2 Understanding Exposures in Children’s Environments 3 Closing the Asthma Gap for Minority and Poor Children 5 NaƟonal Children’s Study 9 Science MaƩers Podcast with Peter GrevaƩ 10 PredicƟng the Future of Children’s Health 12 Mothers MaƩ ers 14 Ask a ScienƟst QA with Sally Darney 18 ProtecƟng Growth and Development 20 ProtecƟng Children’s Health for a LifeƟme 22 About this Issue: Science Matters to Children’s Environmental Health Picking food up from the fl oor, playing in dirt, exploring the world through touch and taste. These are all normal parts of child development. But they are also some of the behaviors that may mean trouble for young children under the wrong circumstances. From an environmental health perspecƟve, the behavior of children may increase their risk of exposure to potenƟ ally harmful chemicals. What’s more, pound-for-pound children eat, drink, and breathe more than adults. And because their bodies and internal systems are sƟ ll growing and developing, the earliest stages of life are periods when the potenƟally harmful eff ects of environmental exposures can be most pronounced. Keeping children safe is the focus across the government during October: Children’s Health Month. President Obama marked Child Health Day on October 1, 2012 with a ProclamaƟon that states: A safe environment in which our children can live and grow is also essenƟal to their well-being. Because clean water is the foundaƟon for healthy communiƟes, we are working to reduce contaminants in our drinking water by updaƟng standards and beƩer protecƟng our water sources from polluƟon. We are also building on the successes of the Clean Air Act to improve our air quality and help decrease harmful toxins that can lead to acute bronchiƟs, asthma, cancer, and impaired development. EPA scienƟsts and their research partners have been working to support clean water, clean air, and fewer toxins in the environment for more than 40 years. Much of that work has focused specifi cally on advancing children’s health. Today, EPA research conƟ nues to provide a beƩ er understanding of how young people at every stage of development can be exposed to harmful substances in the environment and what those exposures might mean to their health today and well into the future. Please enjoy this issue of EPA’s Science MaƩers to learn more about how EPA researchers and their partners are working to protect children from environmental threats and promote environmental health wherever they live, learn, and play. | 1 In the NewsIn the News Researcher with Storied Career to Head EPA’s NaƟonal Center for Environmental Assessment Kenneth Olden, Ph.D., has been a trailblazer his whole life. From paying for his college educaƟon by shining shoes to establishing environmental jusƟce as a compelling fi eld of scienƟfic research, Olden’s story encompasses many accomplishments. Now, he is the new director of EPA’s NaƟonal Center for Environmental Assessment (NCEA) and hopes to change how the country looks at disease. Greenwire covers Dr. Olden’s life, career, and plans as NCEA’s new director. Link: hƩ p:// EPA Increasing the Effi ciency of Chemical Toxicity Tests An effi cient way to find out if a chemical could harm an unborn child is by running the mouse embryonic stem cell test (EST). The ScienƟst interviewed EST experts about the best ways to use the test and about EST variaƟ ons. One expert, EPA researcher Sidney Hunter, tells The ScienƟst how EPA is developing easier ways to culture the cells, making the test even faster and cheaper to run. Read about it in the arƟcle Stemming the Toxic Tide. Link: hƩp://Ɵ stEPA | 2 BPA Linked to Thyroid Hormones in Pregnant Women and Newborn Boys A recently published study from the EPA/ NIEHS funded UC Berkeley Center for Children’s Environmental Health links Bisphenol A (BPA) to thyroid funcƟon in pregnant women and newborn boys. The study, published in Environmental Health PerspecƟves, found a correlaƟon between increased levels of BPA in pregnant women and decreased levels of thyroid hormones in pregnant women and newborn boys. BPA can be found in the lining of Ɵns cans, in hard plasƟcs, and on thermal receipts. Link: hƩ p:// Read the study: hƩ p:// Vanderbilt Research Team Uses Spinach to Harness Solar Energy A research team at Vanderbilt University has developed a way to use spinach to harness solar energy. The team combined silicon with Photosystem 1, a protein involved in photosynthesis, to make a solar cell that is more efficient than other “biohybrid” solar cells. Through an award from EPA’s People, Prosperity, and the Planet (P3) program, the team will develop a prototype and potenƟally take the innovaƟve technology to the market. Link: hƩ p:// More about EPA’s P3 Program: hƩ p:// p3/ Understanding Exposures inChildren’s Environments EPA scienƟsts and their partners provide key research outcomes for understanding and reducing environmental risks to children’s health.Anyone who has ever watched a toddler barreling around knows that trouble lurks around every corner. Young children crawl around on the floor, play in dirt, and put just about anything they can into their mouths, whether it’s a cookie from the fl oor, a plasƟc toy, or a dust-covered curiosity grabbed from under the sofa. These types of behaviors put kids at risk of being exposed to something toxic. By developing beƩ er science-based knowledge about how kids are exposed to harmful things in their environments, it’s possible to reduce their risks and take acƟon to beƩ er protect them. That’s the goal of EPA’s childhood exposure research. EPA’s work to understand childhood exposure began shortly aŌer the Agency was established in 1970. The early studies focused primarily on how young people might encounter pesƟcides during their daily rouƟnes. “Products or behaviors that parents think are perfectly acceptable might come with unintended consequences,” said Nicolle Tulve, PhD, a research physical scienƟst at EPA. “In all our research, we’re focused on day-to-day behavior; we want to understand what exposures are like for kids leading typical lifestyles.” One important way that EPA has increased the understanding of children’s exposures is by developing the Child-Specific Exposure Factors Handbook, which provides informaƟon on various physiological and behavioral factors commonly used in assessing children’s exposure to environmental chemicals. It is used by scienƟ sts, economists, health assessors, and others within and outside EPA conducƟ ng exposure assessments, a criƟcal step in idenƟfy human health risks— including those to children’s health—from exposure to chemical contaminants and other environmental stressors. To conduct an exposure assessment, scienƟ sts need to understand aspects of exposure, such as how much | 3 air a person breathes or how much water a person drinks on a daily basis. EPA’s Exposure Factors Handbook, a standard reference tool, helps by summarizing informaƟon and recommendaƟ ons on factors relevant to exposure assessments. Recently updated in 2011, it provides the most accurate and relevant informaƟon on factors ranging from the intake of fruits and vegetables to consumer product use. But because a child’s exposure differs from an adult’s exposure, EPA developed the Child-Specific Handbook in 2008. The child-specific handbook takes into account that children typically have different diets, higher inhalaƟon rates per unit of body weight, and come into contact with contaminated surfaces when they play close to the ground. Understanding these differences is criƟ cal for evaluaƟ ng potenƟal environmental hazards from EPA-Expo-Box EPA is using the informaƟ on available in the Exposure Factors Handbook, the Child-Specific Exposure Factors Handbook, EPA exposure assessment guidelines, and other sources to develop the EPA-Expo-Box, a compendium of exposure assessment and risk characterizaƟon tools that provide step-by-step guidance for conducƟng an exposure assessment. EPA-Expo-Box will also include links to exposure assessment databases, models, and references – all in a user friendly format organized by the various components of exposure assessment. EPA-Expo-Box will provide one stop shopping for the latest tools and techniques for exposure assessment. It will become a criƟcal tool for EPA and beyond by providing informaƟon to support scienƟfi cally defensible exposure and risk assessments to inform decisions to protect human health. pollutants and will help protect children from dangerous exposures. “By understanding exposure, we can help parents and other caregivers make more informed decisions about how to protect their child’s health,” explained Tulve. | 4 Closing the Asthma Gap for Minority and Poor Children EPA scienƟsts and their partners are working to beƩer understand why asthma disproporƟ onately affects minority and poor children. Nearly 26 million Americans, including seven million children, are affected by asthma, a chronic respiratory disorder that causes airways in the lungs to swell and narrow, leading to wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. The annual economic cost of asthma, including direct medical costs from hospital stays and indirect costs such as lost school and work days, amounts to approximately $56 billion. But when emergency room doors burst open for someone with an asthma aƩ ack, chances are the paƟent will be a poor, minority child. According to the Centers for Disease Control and PrevenƟon (CDC), minority children living in poor socioeconomic condiƟons are at greatest risk. For instance, 16% of African American children had asthma in 2010 compared to 8.2% of white children, and they are twice as likely to be hospitalized with an asthma aƩack and four Ɵmes more likely to die than white children. The asthma rate among children living in poverty was 12.2% in 2010, compared to 8.2% among children living above the poverty line. “Across America we see low-income and minority children and families at a disproporƟonately higher risk | 5 for asthma and respiratory illnesses. Air polluƟ on and other challenges are having serious health eff ects, which compound economic challenges through medical bills and missed school and work days,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “As the mother of a child with asthma, I know what it means for our children to have clean and healthy air to breathe.” Administrator Jackson made those remarks during the unveiling of the Coordinated Federal AcƟon Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Asthma DispariƟes (see sidebar), a blueprint for how EPA and other federal agencies can team up to reduce asthma dispariƟes. A major part of that eff ort is the work conducted by EPA scienƟsts and their partners exploring environmental causes and triggers of asthma, including how socioeconomic factors contribute to childhood asthma. The overall goal is to illuminate the underlying factors of asthma to support work on prevenƟon and intervenƟ on strategies. What increases the risk of developing asthma? While part of the answer certainly lies with geneƟcs, as more than half of all children with asthma also have close relaƟves with the illness, the environment also plays a key role. Air pollutants, allergens, mold, and other environmental agents trigger asthma aƩ acks. EPA researchers and their partners are leading the eff ort to develop new scienƟfi c methods, models, and data for assessing how such triggers increase the risk for asthma and asthma aƩacks. The impact of this research has already contributed to current regulatory standards for two priority air pollutants regulated under the NaƟonal Photograph of the 2008 wildfire in No Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) (see sidebar): ozone and parƟ culate maƩer (PM). EPA’s asthma research has also been factored into health assessments for diesel emissions. The next step is to learn ways to beƩer protect those most at risk. “Now we’re digging into the dispariƟes side of the asthma problem,” said Martha Carraway, | 6 Coordinated Federal AcƟ on Plan In May 2012, the President’s Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children released the Coordinated Federal AcƟ on Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Asthma DispariƟes. The goal of the plan is to build on the strength of past and exisƟng federal programs while developing collaboraƟ ve strategies to plug the knowledge gap with resources that already exist. Low-income and minority asthma sufferers face challenges such as limited access to quality medical care, low levels of health literacy, and inability to aff ord medicaƟon. AddiƟonally, they face higher levels of environmental exposure to allergens orth Carolina. MD, a researcher at EPA. “Kids with poorly controlled asthma are more likely to be treated in the emergency room than kids with controlled asthma. So for public health reasons we need to understand how environmental factors, including air polluƟ on, affect asthma control in vulnerable populaƟ ons.” To advance that work, EPA researchers and their partners took advantage of a 2008 lightning strike that occurred in Pocosin Lakes NaƟ onal Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina. The 40,000-acre (16,000-hectare), smoldering peat fi re sparked by the lightning sent thick, billowing clouds of smoke waŌing into the air. In collaboraƟ on with scienƟsts at the University of North Carolina Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma, and Lung Biology, a team of EPA researchers led by David Diaz-Sanchez, PhD compared emergency room visits for asthma with air quality reports. Looking at the results geographically, they found that low income counƟ es had significantly more visits than more affl uent counƟ es, even though air quality and exposure levels were the same. “EPA studies suggest that children and others living in to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Asthma DispariƟes and pollutants that exacerbate asthma and lack community level acƟviƟes to reduce outdoor air polluƟon. The acƟon plan, in which EPA is a major partner, focuses on the following four strategies: • Reduce barriers to the implementaƟ on of guidelines-based asthma management • Enhance capacity to deliver integrated, comprehensive asthma care to children in communiƟ es with racial and ethnic asthma dispariƟes • Improve capacity to idenƟfy the children most impacted by asthma dispariƟes • Accelerate efforts to idenƟfy and test intervenƟons that may prevent the onset of asthma among ethnic and racial minority children Progress of the acƟon plan will be documented semi-annually and made public at www.epa. gov/childrenstaskforce. | 7 Science to Support NaƟonal Ambient Air Quality Standards ProtecƟng the health of children and other vulnerable life stages and populaƟons is a key consideraƟon in seƫ ng the NaƟ onal Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), which set pollutant limits to protect human health and the environment. EPA scienƟsts support the development of NAAQS in many ways. Two specifi c examples include reviewing the body of research about pollutants through Integrated Science Assessments (ISAs) and making children’s acƟvity data easily available to decision makers through the Consolidated Human AcƟvity Database (CHAD): ISAs: Two pollutants of parƟcular concern for asthma are parƟ culate maƩer (PM) and ozone. To provide the scienƟfic basis for the NAAQS for PM, EPA scienƟsts assessed the latest research on the eff ects PM has on public health and welfare. The findings were published in the Integrated Science Assessment (ISA) for ParƟ culate MaƩer (available at hƩ p:// EPA is also developing an ozone ISA to ensure the NAAQS for ozone is supported by the best up-to-date science. CHAD: EPA research also supports the NAAQS through the Consolidated Human AcƟvity Database (CHAD). CHAD provides informaƟon on the acƟviƟes of children and adults. Using this informaƟ on, scienƟ sts and engineers can simulate children’s acƟviƟes and breathing rates to see how much of a pollutant a child inhales during daily acƟviƟes. This informaƟon ensures that the NAAQS protect children as well as adults. EPA and the NaƟ onal InsƟ tute of Environmental Health low-income counƟes could be less resilient to air polluƟon, possibly because of social factors such as inadequate nutriƟon. For example, if you’re poor and you’re not eaƟng well, your asthma may be more severe,” said Nsedu Obot Witherspoon, MPH, the ExecuƟve Director of the Children’s Environmental Health Network, a naƟonal mulƟ -disciplinary organizaƟon whose mission is to protect the developing child from environmental health hazards and promote a healthier environment. “Of course, other factors may also be involved, such as whether kids take medicaƟons correctly and whether they have access to good medical care.” EPA’s research on asthma dispariƟes can help guide newer and beƩ er intervenƟ ons for reducing exposure to asthma triggers and limiƟng the impacts of the ailment, helping to close the gap for minority and poor children and improving the health of children everywhere. EPA’s “Science MaƩ ers” will feature Safe and Sustainable CommuniƟes Research, including the links between income dispariƟes and environmental health and jusƟce issues in a future issue. Subscribe now at: hƩ p:// | 8 [...]... adults We oŌen do not yet know the implicaƟon of these factors for children’s health, and this is why a conƟ nued robust children’s health research program is so important A good example of science and research that help protect children’s health is the Children’s Health Research Centers, jointly sponsored by EPA and NIEHS, that foster research collaboraƟons among clinical and behavioral scienƟsts with... protect pregnant mothers to have healthier children at these criƟcal stages of life A strong children’s health research program has laid the foundaƟon for the progress that we’ve made to date I’m confident that a robust children’s health research program will lead to conƟnued progress in EPA’s work on children’s health in the future | 11 Predicting the Future of Children’s Health EPA’s Virtual Embryo project... disadvantaged A holisƟc approach to children’s health considers all the different factors: children’s suscepƟ bility, children’s exposures, and children’s environment and community These all play into how healthy our children are and whether all children are provided with clean and healthy environments SM: How does EPA science and research help protect and promote children’s health? SPD: Science helps us... environment EPA research looks at all of the factors that impact children’s environmental exposures and the health risks that may be associated with them We do research on chemicals and other kinds of contaminants, like nanomaterials, that could aff ect children’s health And we also conduct and support crosscutƟng research on how all these factor come together to aff ect children’s health The Children’s Centers,... findings from a children’s environmental health research program supported by EPA and the NaƟonal InsƟtute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) For more than 14 years, EPA and NIEHS have partnered to invest more than $150 million to expand knowledge about children’s environmental health through the EPA/NIEHS Children’s Environmental Health and Disease PrevenƟon Research Program (Children’s Centers)... mulƟ disciplinary Children’s Health Research Centers have been funded, engaging some of the naƟon’s | 22 leading children’s environmental health researchers Through the collaboraƟ ve network, research scienƟsts, pediatricians, epidemiologists, and local community representaƟves seek ways to reduce children’s health risks, protect them from environmental threats, and promote their health and wellbeing... upon the foundaƟon of research on children’s environmental health To learn more about EPA’s Children’s Environmental Health and Disease PrevenƟon Research Centers, including how to sign up for the monthly webinar series presenƟng the latest research findings, please visit: www.epa gov/ncer/childrenscenters/ Long-term Research to Protect Children Some of the Children’s Environmental Health Centers have... conƟnues to support ongoing research hyperacƟvity disorder (ADHD), neurodevelopmental defi cits, childhood leukemia, diabetes, and obesity EPA/NIEHS Children’s Centers researchers have published a host of important fi ndings on diverse research subjects important to protecƟ ng children’s health (See sidebar: Advancing Children’s Environmental Health Science.) Children’s Centers researchers have pioneered... gave you examples of epidemiology research, toxicology, health assessments, and children’s exposure factors We need data from all of these lines of research to help make sure we’re protecƟng children’s health Science MaƩers: Looking back over the past ten years, what kind of overall progress do you think we’ve made as a result of EPA’s children’s environmental health research? Dr GrevaƩ SubstanƟ al :...The National Children’s Study EPA researchers contribute to the largest federal study ever undertaken to examine environmental influences on the health and development of children Tackling Asthma DispariƟes at the Children’s Environmental Health Centers Science (NIEHS) jointly fund the Children’s Environmental Health and Disease PrevenƟ on Research Centers, a network of university-based research programs . factors for children’s health, and this is why a conƟnued robust children’s health research program is so important. A good example of science and research. that help protect children’s health is the Children’s Health Research Centers, jointly sponsored by EPA and NIEHS, that foster research collaboraƟons
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