- Children’s study to research environmental influences
- May 8, 2014
The National Children’s Health Study launched a long-term research project in San Diego to determine how the environment affects the health and development of a child.
The study is being performed by researchers from the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine and San Diego State University, and will follow 100,000 children through their development to age 21. The findings may help scientists learn more about the environmental risk factors associated with illnesses such as childhood asthma, obesity and autism. Christina Chambers, a professor at UC San Diego School of Medicine, said the findings can also provide researchers with an insight into the environmental causes of various diseases that are developed during childhood.
“We will finally be able to create a national sample to help us confirm, for example, whether suspected contaminants such as pesticides and other chemicals are actually the cause of birth defects or metabolic disease,” Chambers said.
Children are more susceptible to the environment than adults. According to the World Health Organization, it is because they are growing and consuming more food and air in proportion to their weight. They are still developing in all areas and are sometimes unable to make choices to protect themselves.
Children’s health problems can be a result of contaminated water, poor sanitation, indoor smoke, rampant disease vectors such as mosquitoes, inadequate food supply and unsafe use of chemicals and waste disposal, which rank among the highest environmental burden of disease worldwide.
Environmental risk factors can even include the conditions inside of a mother’s womb. According to a Harvard University study, expecting mothers who gain too much weight are likely to give birth to heavier babies who are at risk of becoming obese and developing illnesses like cancer or asthma later in life.
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