Special Issue "Maternal and Child Environmental Health and Disease"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Youssef Oulhote
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, School of Public Health and Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Amherst, MA01003, USA
Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02215, USA
Interests: child development; endocrine disruptors; metals; DOHaD; neurodevelopment; causal inference; chemical mixtures
Dr. Dania Valvi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02215, USA
Interests: maternal and child health; developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD); endocrine disruptors; gene–environment interactions; environmental disease; obesity; diabetes; -omics biomarkers

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are organizing a Special Issue on Maternal and Child Environmental Health and Disease in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The venue is a peer-reviewed, scientific journal that publishes articles and communications in the interdisciplinary area of environmental health sciences and public health. For detailed information about the journal, we refer you to https://www.mdpi.com/journal/ijerph. 

Exposure to environmental stressors can result in perturbations of sensitive biological processes, contributing to a higher burden of disease. Of particular concern are exposures occurring during periods of high vulnerability, such as pregnancy, which can shape the disease trajectories of both the mother and the child. Pollution, including chemical exposure, is the largest environmental cause of disease and premature death and is estimated to have contributed to 9 million deaths globally in 2015. For example, early life exposure to pesticides, air pollution, heavy metals, and tobacco smoke have been shown to increase the risks of low birth weight, obesity, reproductive disorders, and respiratory and neurodevelopmental disorders/deficits.

In this issue, we welcome contributions highlighting recent findings from original studies and systematic reviews and meta-analyses of the link between environmental chemical exposures and health outcomes in pregnant women and children. Special emphasis will be given to novel findings about the interplay of environmental chemicals with social, nutritional, and/or genetic factors, as well as studies integrating innovative omics technologies for the elucidation of mechanisms underlying environmental disease pathogenesis. Contributions from studies conducted in low- and middle-income countries are highly encouraged.

Dr. Youssef Oulhote
Dr. Dania Valvi
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Environmental chemicals
  • Endocrine disruptors
  • Air pollution
  • Heavy metals
  • Maternal health
  • Fetal and child development
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Childhood growth trajectories
  • Types 1 and 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Omics biomarkers

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Air Pollution and Preterm Birth: Do Air Pollution Changes over Time Influence Risk in Consecutive Pregnancies among Low-Risk Women?
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(18), 3365; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16183365 - 12 Sep 2019
Abstract
Since the 2000s, air pollution has generally continued to decrease in the U.S. To investigate preterm birth (PTB) risk associated with air pollutants in two consecutive pregnancies, we estimated exposures using modified Community Multiscale Air Quality models linked to the NICHD Consecutive Pregnancy [...] Read more.
Since the 2000s, air pollution has generally continued to decrease in the U.S. To investigate preterm birth (PTB) risk associated with air pollutants in two consecutive pregnancies, we estimated exposures using modified Community Multiscale Air Quality models linked to the NICHD Consecutive Pregnancy Study. Electronic medical records for delivery admissions were available for 50,005 women with singleton births in 20 Utah-based hospitals between 2002–2010. We categorized whole pregnancy average exposures as high (>75th percentile), moderate (25–75) and low (<25). Modified Poisson regression estimated second pregnancy PTB risk associated with persistent high and moderate exposure, and increasing or decreasing exposure, compared to persistent low exposure. Analyses were adjusted for prior PTB, interpregnancy interval and demographic and clinical characteristics. Second pregnancy PTB risk was increased when exposure stayed high for sulfur dioxide (32%), ozone (17%), nitrogen oxides (24%), nitrogen dioxide (43%), carbon monoxide (31%) and for particles < 10 microns (29%) versus consistently low exposure. PTB risk tended to increase to a lesser extent for repeated PTB (19–21%) than for women without a prior PTB (22–79%) when exposure increased or stayed high. Area-level changes in air pollution exposure appear to have important consequences in consecutive pregnancies with increasing exposure associated with higher risk. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Maternal and Child Environmental Health and Disease)
Open AccessCommunication
Blood Lead Concentrations and Antibody Levels to Measles, Mumps, and Rubella among U.S. Children
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(17), 3035; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16173035 - 22 Aug 2019
Abstract
Child blood lead concentrations have been associated with measures of immune dysregulation in nationally representative study samples. However, response to vaccination—often considered the gold standard in immunotoxicity testing—has not been examined in relation to typical background lead concentrations common among U.S. children. The [...] Read more.
Child blood lead concentrations have been associated with measures of immune dysregulation in nationally representative study samples. However, response to vaccination—often considered the gold standard in immunotoxicity testing—has not been examined in relation to typical background lead concentrations common among U.S. children. The present study estimated the association between blood lead concentrations and antigen-specific antibody levels to measles, mumps, and rubella in a nationally representative sample of 7005 U.S. children aged 6–17 years. Data from the 1999–2004 cycles of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) were used. In the adjusted models, children with blood lead concentrations between 1 and 5 µg/dL had an 11% lower anti-measles (95% CI: −16, −5) and a 6% lower anti-mumps antibody level (95% CI: −11, −2) compared to children with blood lead concentrations <1 µg/dL. The odds of a seronegative anti-measles antibody level was approximately two-fold greater for children with blood lead concentrations between 1 and 5 µg/dL compared to children with blood lead concentrations <1 µg/dL (OR = 2.0, 95% CI: 1.4, 3.1). The adverse associations observed in the present study provide further evidence of potential immunosuppression at blood lead concentrations <5 µg/dL, the present Centers for Disease Control and Prevention action level. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Maternal and Child Environmental Health and Disease)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Associations between Indoor Air Pollution and Acute Respiratory Infections among Under-Five Children in Afghanistan: Do SES and Sex Matter?
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(16), 2910; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16162910 - 14 Aug 2019
Abstract
Background: Low-income families often depend on fuels such as wood, coal, and animal dung for cooking. Such solid fuels are highly polluting and are a primary source of indoor air pollutants (IAP). We examined the association between solid fuel use (SFU) and [...] Read more.
Background: Low-income families often depend on fuels such as wood, coal, and animal dung for cooking. Such solid fuels are highly polluting and are a primary source of indoor air pollutants (IAP). We examined the association between solid fuel use (SFU) and acute respiratory infection (ARI) among under-five children in Afghanistan and the extent to which this association varies by socioeconomic status (SES) and gender. Materials and Methods: This is a cross-sectional study based on de-identified data from Afghanistan’s first standard Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) conducted in 2015. The sample consists of ever-married mothers with under-five children in the household (n = 27,565). We used mixed-effect Poisson regression models with robust error variance accounting for clustering to examine the associations between SFU and ARI among under-five children after adjusting for potential confounders. We also investigated potential effect modification by SES and sex. Additional analyses were conducted using an augmented measure of the exposure to IAP accounting for both SFU and the location of cooking/kitchen (High Exposure, Moderate, and No Exposure). Results: Around 70.2% of households reported SFU, whereas the prevalence of ARI was 17.6%. The prevalence of ARI was higher in children living in households with SFU compared to children living in households with no SFU (adjusted prevalence ratio (aPR) = 1.10; 95% CI: (0.98, 1.23)). We did not observe any effect modification by SES or child sex. When using the augmented measure of exposure incorporating the kitchen’s location, children highly exposed to IAP had a higher prevalence of ARI compared to unexposed children (aPR = 1.17; 95% CI: (1.03, 1.32)). SES modified this association with the strongest associations observed among children from the middle wealth quintile. Conclusion: The findings have significant policy implications and suggest that ARI risk in children may be reduced by ensuring there are clean cookstoves as well as clean fuels and acting on the socio-environmental pathways. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Maternal and Child Environmental Health and Disease)
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Open AccessArticle
Maternal Residential Proximity to Major Roadways and the Risk of Childhood Acute Leukemia: A Population-Based Case-Control Study in Texas, 1995–2011
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(11), 2029; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16112029 - 07 Jun 2019
Abstract
Acute leukemia is the most common pediatric malignancy. Some studies suggest early-life exposures to air pollution increase risk of childhood leukemia. Therefore, we explored the association between maternal residential proximity to major roadways and risk of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and acute myeloid [...] Read more.
Acute leukemia is the most common pediatric malignancy. Some studies suggest early-life exposures to air pollution increase risk of childhood leukemia. Therefore, we explored the association between maternal residential proximity to major roadways and risk of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Information on cases with acute leukemia (n = 2030) was obtained for the period 1995–2011 from the Texas Cancer Registry. Birth certificate controls were frequency matched (10:1) on birth year (n = 20,300). Three residential proximity measures were assessed: (1) distance to nearest major roadway, (2) residence within 500 meters of a major roadway, and (3) roadway density. Multivariate logistic regression was used to generate adjusted odds ratios (aOR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI). Mothers who lived ≤500 meters to a major roadway were not more likely to have a child who developed ALL (OR = 1.03; 95% CI: 0.91–1.16) or AML (OR = 0.84; 95% CI: 0.64–1.11). Mothers who lived in areas characterized by high roadway density were not more likely to have children who developed ALL (OR = 1.06, 95% CI: 0.93–1.20) or AML (OR = 0.83, 95% CI: 0.61–1.13). Our results do not support the hypothesis that maternal proximity to major roadways is strongly associated with childhood acute leukemia. Future assessments evaluating the role of early-life exposure to environmental factors on acute leukemia risk should explore novel methods for directly measuring exposures during relevant periods of development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Maternal and Child Environmental Health and Disease)
Open AccessArticle
Self-Reported Exposure to ETS (Environmental Tobacco Smoke), Urinary Cotinine, and Oxidative Stress Parameters in Pregnant Women—The Pilot Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(9), 1656; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16091656 - 13 May 2019
Abstract
Background: Exposure to ETS (environmental tobacco smoke) is one of the most toxic environmental exposures. Objective: To investigate the association of ETS with physiological, biochemical, and psychological indicators, as well as with urine antioxidant capacity (AC) and oxidative damage to lipids in a [...] Read more.
Background: Exposure to ETS (environmental tobacco smoke) is one of the most toxic environmental exposures. Objective: To investigate the association of ETS with physiological, biochemical, and psychological indicators, as well as with urine antioxidant capacity (AC) and oxidative damage to lipids in a pilot sample of healthy pregnant women. Methods: Exposure to ETS was investigated via a validated questionnaire, and urine cotinine and the marker of oxidative damage to lipids via 8-isoprostane concentrations using an ELISA kit. Urine AC was determined by the spectrophotometric Trolox-equivalent antioxidant capacity (TEAC) method. From a sample of pregnant women (n = 319, average age 30.84 ± 5.09 years) in 80, the levels of cotinine and oxidative stress markers were analyzed. Results: Among the 80 pregnant women, 5% (7.4% confirmed by cotinine) reported being current smokers and 25% reported passive smoking in the household (18.8% confirmed by cotinine). The Kappa was 0.78 for smokers and 0.22 for ETS-exposed nonsmokers. Pregnant women in the ETS-exposed group had significantly reduced AC compared to both the nonsmoker (ETS−) and the smoker groups (p < 0.05). Nonsmokers had significantly lower levels of 8-isoprostane than smokers (p < 0.01) and ETS-exposed nonsmokers (p < 0.05). Correlations between urine levels of cotinine and AC were positive in ETS-exposed nonsmokers. Conclusion: A harmful association of active and passive smoking and oxidative stress parameters among pregnant women has been indicated. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Maternal and Child Environmental Health and Disease)
Open AccessArticle
Hypospadias Risk from Maternal Residential Exposure to Heavy Metal Hazardous Air Pollutants
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(6), 930; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16060930 - 15 Mar 2019
Abstract
Objective: Investigate whether residential prenatal exposure to heavy metal hazardous air pollutants (HMHAPs) is associated with an increased risk of hypospadias. Methods: Data on non-syndromic hypospadias cases (n = 8981) and control patients delivered in Texas were obtained from the Texas [...] Read more.
Objective: Investigate whether residential prenatal exposure to heavy metal hazardous air pollutants (HMHAPs) is associated with an increased risk of hypospadias. Methods: Data on non-syndromic hypospadias cases (n = 8981) and control patients delivered in Texas were obtained from the Texas Birth Defects Registry and matched 1:10 by birth year. Average exposure concentrations of HMHAPs were obtained from the 2005 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency National-Scale Air Toxics Assessment and categorized into quintiles. Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were estimated. STROBE reporting guidelines were followed. Results: We observed associations between hypospadias and prenatal HMHAP exposure. Manganese demonstrated significant increased risk of hypospadias at the medium, medium-high and high exposure quintiles; lead in the medium-high and high exposure quintiles. Cadmium, mercury and nickel demonstrated a significant inverted “U-shaped” association for exposures with significant associations in the medium and medium-high quintiles but not in the medium-low and high quintiles. Arsenic and chromium demonstrated a significant bivalent association for risk of hypospadias in a lower quintile as well as a higher quintile with non-significant intermediate quintiles. Conclusions: Using data from one of the world’s largest active surveillance birth defects registries, we identified significant associations between hypospadias and HMHAP exposures. These results should be used in counseling for maternal demographic risk factors as well as avoidance of heavy metals and their sources. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Maternal and Child Environmental Health and Disease)
Open AccessArticle
Exploring Disparities in Maternal Residential Proximity to Unconventional Gas Development in the Barnett Shale in North Texas
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(3), 298; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16030298 - 23 Jan 2019
Abstract
Background: This study explores sociodemographic disparities in residential proximity to unconventional gas development (UGD) among pregnant women. Methods: We conducted a secondary analysis using data from a retrospective birth cohort of 164,658 women with a live birth or fetal death from [...] Read more.
Background: This study explores sociodemographic disparities in residential proximity to unconventional gas development (UGD) among pregnant women. Methods: We conducted a secondary analysis using data from a retrospective birth cohort of 164,658 women with a live birth or fetal death from November 2010 to 2012 in the 24-county area comprising the Barnett Shale play, in North Texas. We considered both individual- and census tract-level indicators of sociodemographic status and computed Indexes of Concentration at the Extremes (ICE) to quantify relative neighborhood-level privilege/disadvantage. We used negative binomial regression to investigate the relation between these variables and the count of active UGD wells within 0.8 km of the home during gestation. We calculated count ratios (CR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) to describe associations. Results: There were fewer wells located near homes of women of color living in low-income areas compared to non-Hispanic white women living in more privileged neighborhoods (ICE race/ethnicity + income: CR = 0.51, 95% CI = 0.48–0.55). Conclusions: While these results highlight a potential disparity in residential proximity to UGD in the Barnett Shale, they do not provide evidence of an environmental justice (EJ) issue nor negate findings of environmental injustice in other regions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Maternal and Child Environmental Health and Disease)
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