Children are likely to be more vulnerable than adults to the effects of environmental contaminants. To better understand the effects of children’s exposures, and to explore ways to reduce children’s risks from environmental toxicants, the EPA, through the Science to Achieve Results (STAR) grants program, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are supporting a network of Centers for Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research. A primary goal of the program is the accelerated application of basic research findings into clinical intervention strategies with a view towards preventing adverse health outcomes.
Click on the Center Location on the map to see the Current and previously funded Children’s Centers.
The first eight Centers were established in 1998 to study the effects of environmental factors, such as pesticides and air pollution, on childhood asthma and children’s growth and development. Four more Centers were established in 2001 to study the basis of neurodevelopmental and behavioral disorders such as autism. Additional Centers were established in 2004 and 2007 to investigate how exposure to mixtures of chemicals affect children’s health and to study environmentally driven disparities in birth outcomes. Additional centers were established in 2010 to (1) capitalize on the research findings and resources from ongoing epidemiology and clinical studies of pregnant women and children; (2) enhance the dynamic application of novel findings and approaches in areas of basic or mechanistic research e.g., imaging, epigenetics and comparative biology to human studies; (3) develop and apply new or improved biomarkers to best characterize exposure effects on human biology and to predict long-term clinical consequences; (4) train new investigators who can address emerging issues in children's environmental health with state of the art tools and methodologies; and (5) ensure active participation of the identified stakeholders in the research process and translation of research findings; (5) identify the influences of environmental exposures on normal physiological function of organs and systems of the fetus/child during gestation and/or early childhood; (6) determine the mechanisms of vulnerability to environmental stressors of the developing fetus and young child at all stages of early development; and (7) understand the impact of the complex environment on children's health including chemicals, diet and nutrition, physical activity, and psychosocial factors on children's health, from birth through young adulthood. Nutrition, social and cultural factors cannot be considered alone, but they can be included as secondary or modifier variables to the primary environmental stressor. Each Center fosters community participation in one or more studies.
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The Children's Centers conduct observational studies involving a number of prevalent environmental exposures and outcomes, plus intervention studies (Kimmel, Collman et al. 2005). A primary aim of the program is to promote multidisciplinary interactions among basic, clinical and behavioral scientists through university and community partnerships, and to accelerate translation of basic research findings into clinical prevention or intervention strategies. A second aim is to support a coordinated nationwide network of scientists and community advocacy groups working together to address the role of environmental exposures in children's health, and to enhance community-level capacity to identify and address environmental health threats and to identify opportunities for prevention.