Skip Navigation

Your Environment. Your Health.

Maternal and Developmental Risks from Environmental and Social Stressors (MADRES)

Centers of Excellence on Environmental Health Disparities Research

highways
populations

Center Links

Project Location:
Los Angeles, California

Center Directors:
Frank Gilliland, M.D., Ph.D.
University of Southern California

Carrie Breton, Sc.D.
University of Southern California

Community Partners:
First Five LA: Best Start Communities (East Los Angeles)
Legacy LA
Boyle Heights Beat
East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health

Clinic Partners:
Eisner Pediatric & Family Medical Center
Prenatal Clinic at LAC+ USC Medical Center

Center Research Priorities:
Cumulative Effects
Differential Exposures
Community Engagement
Built Environment
Land Use
Sustainability

Overall Center Goal:

Childhood and adult obesity rates have increased markedly during the past four decades and account for a large burden of disease and associated economic cost. One of the most striking concerns with the obesity epidemic is the ethnic disparity among young children and pregnant women. Compared to other populations, Hispanic children and women face disproportionately higher rates of obesity and pregnancy-related obesity, respectively. Therefore, eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in obesity is a national priority, especially given the numerous adverse cardio-metabolic consequences.

Given the striking health and environmental burdens that the Hispanic and other minority and low-income populations face in California, the Maternal and Developmental Risks from Environmental and Social Stressors (MADRES) Center focuses on understanding causes of childhood obesity, excessive gestational weight gain, and postpartum weight retention among these populations. The MADRES Center examines how environmental exposures to air pollution, metals, water contaminants, and toxic releases, coupled with exposures to psychosocial and built environment stressors, lead to excessive gestational weight gain and postpartum weight retention. To carry out the Center projects, investigators are following a large, prospective pregnancy cohort of lower income, predominantly Hispanic women in Los Angeles, California.

The specific aims of this Center's projects are to:

  • Investigate the individual and cumulative effects of multiple pre- and postnatal environmental exposures to air pollution, metals, water contaminants, and toxic releases on infant birth trajectories (weight and height), feeding behaviors, and metabolic efficiency during the first year of life.
  • Investigate the individual and cumulative effects of multiple pre- and postpartum environmental exposures (air pollution, metals, water contaminants, toxic releases) and social stressors on maternal obesity-related outcomes, such as gestational weight gain and postpartum weight retention.
  • Evaluate the role that social stressors as well as altered psychological, behavioral, and metabolic responses play in mediating obesity-related health effects from environmental chemicals.
  • Evaluate community approaches to reducing impacts of land use leading to environmental health disparities and ensure active community participation in the research process and translation of research findings.
  • Develop a culturally-appropriate dissemination plan for sharing scientific knowledge with target audiences in Los Angeles and develop programs for pregnant women and new mothers to strengthen environmental health literacy.


Back to top Back to top