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Your Environment. Your Health.

Neurodevelopmental Diseases

Program Description

The prenatal period and childhood are critical times in brain development. Early exposure to pesticides, metals, and other contaminants has been suggested to affect normal brain development. Environmental health scientists are working to uncover how genetics and early environmental exposures may interact to lead to autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and other neurodevelopmental problems.

What NIEHS is Doing

NIEHS-supported researchers are seeking to understand how environmental exposures early in life affect neurodevelopment and to identify who is most vulnerable to these exposures. For example, NIEHS grantees have made important discoveries about the role of air pollution in autism risk and have shown that mothers who took folic acid during the first month of pregnancy had a lower risk of having a child with autism.

Grantees are also examining how exposure to lead, mercury, estrogen, pesticides, and air pollution might affect a child’s neurodevelopment, learning, and behavior. Recent evidence includes the finding that developmental delays result from chronic exposure to air pollution and to a chemical found in residential pest-control products.

By identifying associations between developmental exposures and neurological effects, NIEHS research efforts can improve public health by preventing disease and disability.

Program Leads

Jonathan Hollander
Jonathan A. Hollander, Ph.D.
Health Scientist Administrator
Tel 984-287-3269
P.O. Box 12233
Mail Drop K3-15
Durham, N.C. 27709
Kimberly Ann Gray
Kimberly Gray, Ph.D.
Health Scientist Administrator
Tel 984-287-3262
530 Davis Dr
Keystone Building
Durham, NC 27713
Cindy Lawler
Cindy Lawler, Ph.D.
Branch Chief, Genes, Environment, and Health
Tel 984-287-3280
P.O. Box 12233
Mail Drop K3-15
Durham, N.C. 27709
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