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University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Center for Children's Environmental Health & Disease Prevention Research- Formative Center

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Susan Schantz, Ph.D.

Project Description:

At this center, researchers study the effects of bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates, both of which are endocrine disruptors. Endocrine disruptors can interfere with the body’s natural hormones by blocking or altering normal hormone function resulting in long-term mental and physical health effects. Scientists at this center examine the health risks of exposure to these chemicals in the womb or during adolescence and aim to discover how health problems can be limited and prevented.

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Project 1: Prenatal exposure to BPA/phthalates: Infant physical and behavioral development 

Project leader: Susan Schantz, Ph.D.


Animal studies show that exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals such as phthalates and BPA can cause developmental problems, but it is not known whether the same effects are seen in humans. This project follows 150 pregnant women to see whether exposure to these chemicals during pregnancy is associated with any physical or mental changes in their infants. The researchers aim to develop novel methods to assess the impact of children’s exposure in the womb to BPA and/or phthalates on physical and behavioral characteristics in children during the first few months of life.

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Project 2: Adolescent exposure to BPA/phthalates: Cognitive and behavioral development 

Project leader: Susan Korrick, M.D.


This project examines how exposure to BPA or phthalates during adolescence may affect brain function. Using a variety of tests and measurements, researchers examine children approaching adolescence for the presence of endocrine disrupting chemicals in comparison to the presence of behavioral and developmental disorders. The project builds on an ongoing study of nearly 800 children who have been monitored since birth to assess the relationship of early life exposure to pesticides and metals to brain and nervous system development.

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Project 3: Mechanisms of in utero BPA exposure on fetal gonad development 

Project leader: Jodi A. Flaws, Ph.D.


BPA has been detected in pregnant women as well as in umbilical cord and fetal blood, indicating that developing fetuses are exposed to BPA. This project examines whether BPA exposure in the womb harms the development and functions of the reproductive system in mice.

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Project 4: Effects of bisphenol A on the developing cortex 

Project leader: Janice M. Juraska, Ph.D.


This project uses mice to examine how being exposed to BPA in the womb or during adolescence affects brain development and function.

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