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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 may affect normal brain development. Environmental health scientists work to uncover how genetics and early environmental exposures may interact, leading to autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and other neurodevelopmental problems.

What Is NIEHS Doing?

NIEHS-supported researchers seek to understand how environmental exposures early in life affect neurodevelopment and identify who is most vulnerable to these exposures. For example, NIEHS grantees discovered air pollution may play a role in autism risk. Research also shows that mothers who took folic acid during the first month of pregnancy had a lower risk of having a child with autism.

Grantees also examine how exposure to lead, mercury, estrogen, pesticides, and air pollution might affect a child’s neurodevelopment, learning, and behavior. They found developmental delays linked to 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 findings can improve public health by informing disease and disability prevention efforts.

Program Leads

Cindy Lawler
Cindy Lawler, Ph.D.
Chief, Genes, Environment, and Health Branch
Tel 984-287-3280
P.O. Box 12233
Mail Drop K3-15
Durham, N.C. 27709
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
530 Davis Drive (Keystone Bldg)
Durham, NC 27713
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