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Your Environment. Your Health.

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

University of Michigan Children's Environmental Health Center

Center Overview

Center Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan

Public Health Impacts: The University of Michigan Children’s Environmental Health Center is studying how obesity, growth, and risk of metabolic syndrome are affected by the interaction of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) with diet during the critical developmental periods of pregnancy and puberty. Research findings may inform interventions to reduce the impact of EDCs on children’s health.

Primary Environmental Exposures: Mixtures of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), such as lead, cadmium, bisphenol A (BPA), phthalates

Primary Health Outcomes: Birth outcomes, child weight gain and status, body composition, activity patterns, hormonal levels, sexual maturation, metabolic syndrome

Center Details

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Center Investigators

Principal InvestigatorKaren E. Peterson, Sc.D. 
     
Pediatric Health Specialist: Joyce Lee, M.D. 
Specialties in: Pediatric endocrinology and diabetes

Project 1 Leader: John Meeker, Sc.D. 

Project 2 LeadersKaren E. Peterson, Sc.D., and Vasantha Padmanabhan, Ph.D. 

Project 3 Leader: Dana Dolinoy, Ph.D. 

Community Outreach & Translation Core Leader: Alison Miller, Ph.D. 

Faculty Development Investigator: Brisa N. S├ínchez, Ph.D. 

Center Description & Activities

The University of Michigan Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Center is using population studies and animal models to investigate how mixtures of EDCs interact with diet to influence metabolic health. The center is a collaborative effort between the University of Michigan School of Public Health and Instituto Nacional de Salud Publica in Mexico. Center projects draw upon data from the Early Life Exposures in Mexico to Environmental Toxicants (ELEMENT) study, which includes 200 children and teens that have been followed from before birth to the present. They are also studying participants in the Michigan Mother-Infant Program (MMIP) study.

Exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals during different periods of child development can affect growth, speed of maturation, and risk of metabolic syndrome - a group of risk factors that occur together and increase the risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. These effects can be amplified or dampened by dietary intake.

Center researchers are capitalizing on population studies and a mouse model, and their findings will provide a valuable base for designing interventions that reduce the impact of pervasive endocrine disruptors on children's health .

Project 1 (Meeker): Perinatal and Prepubertal Mixtures, Physical Growth, and Sexual Maturation

Project leader: John Meeker, Sc.D. 

This project is assessing the relationship between exposure to a mixture of endocrine disruptors (phthalates, BPA, lead, and cadmium) and the speed of physical growth and timing of sexual maturation in the ELEMENT cohort. The researchers are assessing exposure data and body measurements taken at 6-month intervals between birth and 5 years of age as well as exposure measures from all three trimesters of pregnancy when the children were in the womb.

Project 2 (Peterson, Padmanabhan): Metabolic Consequences of in Utero and Peripubertal Toxicant-diet Exposures

Project leaders: Karen E. Peterson, Sc.D. and Vasantha Padmanabhan, Ph.D.

Researchers are working to understand how exposures to endocrine disruptors during pregnancy and adolescence may interact with diet to lead to metabolic dysregulation, the impairment of metabolism in the body. The researchers will study participants in the MMIP cohort and children from the ELEMENT cohort.

Project 3 (Dolinoy): Developmental Exposures and Diet: Epigenetics of Metabolic Syndrome Risk

Project leader: Dana Dolinoy, Ph.D. 

This project is using a mouse model to identify exposure mixtures and modifiers such as diet and timing of exposure that influence later-life metabolic syndrome risk and reproductive development via epigenetic alterations.

Community Outreach & Translation Core

Core leader:Alison Miller, Ph.D. 

The Community Outreach and Translation Core (COTC) is enhancing stakeholders' understanding of the role that environmental exposures have on children's health as well as potential points of prevention and intervention.