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EPA/NIEHS Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Centers (CEHCs)

Protecting Children’s Health for a Lifetime

For many reasons, children are likely to be more vulnerable than adults to the effects of environmental contaminants. To better understand the effects of these exposures on children's health, the EPA/NIEHS Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Centers ("Children's Centers") were established to explore ways to reduce children's health risks from environmental factors. The program is jointly funded by EPA through the Science to Achieve Results (STAR) grants program, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).

The long-range goals of the program include understanding how environmental factors affect children's health, and promoting translation of basic research findings into intervention and prevention methods to prevent adverse health outcomes.

Multidiscipilnary Program: fostering research collaborations among basic, clinical, and behavioral scientists with participation from local communities.

The EPA/NIEHS Children’s Centers continue to contribute to understanding complex interactions between the environment, genetics, and other factors and how those interactions may affect children’s health from preconception to young adulthood.

Emerging Areas of Research Include

  • Obesity: What is the role of environmental factors in the epidemic of obesity among our nation’s children?
  • Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals: How are widespread exposures to chemicals that interfere with the body’s hormones affecting children, particularly during vulnerable windows of development?
  • Epigenetics: How do modifications to DNA resulting from diet, aging, stress, and/or environmental exposures affect our children or our grandchildren?


Pregnant Woman and water bottle U.S. EPA/NIEHS University of Illinois Children’s Center: BPA May Affect a Woman’s Reproductive Health
University of Illinois, one of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Centers was highlighted in a NY Times article for their research on how bisphenol A or BPA, could potentially affect women’s health.
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The EPA/NIEHS Children’s Centers program is celebrating more than 15 years of working to protect some of our most vulnerable citizens – our children. The program has been highly successful in producing significant research results and through more than 1,000 peer-reviewed publications. Many of these publications have been among the most cited in widely read journals. Children’s Centers researchers have helped to establish the foundation of children’s environmental health research and have in large part framed our current understanding of the field. Research from the Children’s Centers has also been used as supporting evidence in policy decisions to protect human health by limiting exposure to air pollution, pesticides and endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Each month, Children’s Centers investigators share their research in an ongoing webinar series (link to webinar page). These webinars are recorded and posted online on the EPA/NIEHS Children's Centers 2014 Webinar Series page. In 2013, EPA and NIEHS together funded eight new 5-year Children’s Centers and a list of the awards and abstracts for the research projects are available at Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Centers (with NIEHS) (2012).

Meeting Celebrates 15 years of the EPA/NIEHS Children’s Centers Research Program
The EPA/NIEHS Children’s Centers program celebrated the program’s 15th anniversary during Children’s Health Month in October, 2013 with a joint meeting with the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units (PEHSUs). More than 200 people attended the 2-day meeting at the Omni Shoreham hotel in Washington, DC. The theme of the meeting was “Protecting Children’s Health for a Lifetime: Environmental Health Research Meets Clinical Practice and Public Policy.” Speakers included EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, EPA Office of Research and Development Acting Assistant Administrator Lek Kadeli, NIEHS Director Linda Birnbaum, principal investigators and researchers from the Children’s Centers and clinicians from the PEHSU program. A Congressional briefing held in conjunction with the meeting featured presentations from EPA Office of Research and Development Deputy Assistant Administrator Ramona Trovato, NIEHS Director Linda Birnbaum and Children’s Centers Principal Investigators Frederica Perera, Brenda Eskenazi and Gregory Diette. For more information and the meeting agenda, please see Calendar Event

For these, and other articles about the centers, see the Newsroom.
  • Visit the Multimedia section to view videos.
  • Local Community Partnerships are integral to the work of the Centers, supporting research, educational outreach, and intervention projects.
CEHCs Home Basic Information Community Partnerships Recipients Multimedia Calendar Funding Opportunities Newsroom Additional Resources

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