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Special Issue "Prenatal Exposure to Environmental Pollutants and Other Stressors: Impacts on Fetal Development, Birth Outcomes, Children’s Health and Beyond"

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: 20 December 2022 | Viewed by 3651

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Halina B. Röllin
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Health Systems and Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria (UP), Prinshof 0084, Pretoria, South Africa
Interests: environmental, occupational and public health; chemical compounds; reproductive toxicity; cohort studies; epidemiology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue of IJERPH provides an opportunity for the research community to publish its invaluable and updated research findings pertaining to prenatal exposure, birth outcomes and children’s health.

The impact of prenatal exposure to environmental pollutants and other stressors poses a threat to fetal development in all stages of pregnancy. Early life exposures have been shown to interfere with fetal and early childhood development and are known to impact morbidity and mortality in adulthood. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes that environmental pollution is a major cause of global disease, death and disability, with a toll greater than that caused by the communicable diseases HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.

Although reproductive health is an ongoing priority worldwide, living conditions and access to health care are defined by the geography, climatic conditions and economic structures of individual countries. Early life exposures are also affected by the health and nutritional status as well as lifestyle of pregnant women; these combined factors are widely recognized to negatively influence birth outcomes and children’s health.

In general, policies related to the control of pollutants and emerging climate changes affect the broader population at large, but particularly ‘at risk’ groups such as pregnant women and their infants and young children—especially those living in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Given your research interests and outputs, we are pleased to invite you to contribute your impactful research findings to this Special Issue.

The aim of this Special Issue is to bring together researchers from different countries and continents (we welcome contributions from both the industrialized world and LMICs) to share their expertise and advance our understanding of the complex interaction between exposure to contaminants during the prenatal stages, birth outcomes and health risks in children. Multidisciplinary research is needed in this rapidly evolving field in order to understand the diversity of exposures from a global perspective and the associated health effects. Moreover, it will be important to link recent research findings with efforts to achieve the objectives of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030.

Original research articles and reviews are welcome. Research areas may include, but are not limited to, the following: prenatal exposures to environmental pollutants; birth outcomes; longitudinal studies of birth cohorts; sex/gender aspects in response to pollutant exposures; impact of specific exposures on long-term health effects; disease susceptibility associated with genetic, epigenetic and lifestyle factors; nutritional effects; climatic influences; methodological and epidemiological studies; toxicological studies; potential impacts of prenatal exposures on the development of non-communicable diseases in neonates and young children; and issues that inform prevention strategies, policy formulation, and the interface and overlap between environmental and public health.

Before preparing your contribution, please submit an abstract so that the topic’s suitability to the Special Issue themes can be ascertained.

We look forward to receiving your contributions and to impactful collaboration across different areas of expertise and geographical regions.

Prof. Dr. Halina B. Röllin
Guest Editor

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 submissions that pass pre-check are 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 2500 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

  • reproductive health
  • prenatal exposure
  • birth outcomes
  • toxic effects
  • sex/gender response
  • susceptibility
  • children’s health
  • environmental health
  • public health
  • prevention strategies and policy formulation

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Introduction to the Special Issue of IJERPH Entitled “Prenatal Exposure to Environmental Pollutants and Other Stressors: Impacts on Fetal Development, Birth Outcomes, Children’s Health and Beyond”
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(14), 8816; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19148816 - 20 Jul 2022
Viewed by 486
Abstract
Environmental pollution is a major cause of global diseases, death and disability, with a toll greater than that caused by communicable diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, combined [...] Full article

Research

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Article
Deeply in Plasticenta: Presence of Microplastics in the Intracellular Compartment of Human Placentas
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(18), 11593; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph191811593 - 14 Sep 2022
Viewed by 595
Abstract
Microplastics (MPs) are defined as plastic particles smaller than 5 mm. They have been found almost everywhere they have been searched for and recent discoveries have also demonstrated their presence in human placenta, blood, meconium, and breastmilk, but their location and toxicity to [...] Read more.
Microplastics (MPs) are defined as plastic particles smaller than 5 mm. They have been found almost everywhere they have been searched for and recent discoveries have also demonstrated their presence in human placenta, blood, meconium, and breastmilk, but their location and toxicity to humans have not been reported to date. The aim of this study was twofold: 1. To locate MPs within the intra/extracellular compartment in human placenta. 2. To understand whether their presence and location are associated with possible structural changes of cell organelles. Using variable pressure scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy, MPs have been localized in ten human placentas. In this study, we demonstrated for the first time the presence and localization in the cellular compartment of fragments compatible with MPs in the human placenta and we hypothesized a possible correlation between their presence and important ultrastructural alterations of some intracytoplasmic organelles (mitochondria and endoplasmic reticulum). These alterations have never been reported in normal healthy term pregnancies until today. They could be the result of a prolonged attempt to remove and destroy the plastic particles inside the placental tissue. The presence of virtually indestructible particles in term human placenta could contribute to the activation of pathological traits, such as oxidative stress, apoptosis, and inflammation, characteristic of metabolic disorders underlying obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome and partially accounting for the recent epidemic of non-communicable diseases. Full article
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Article
In Utero Exposure to Caffeine and Acetaminophen, the Gut Microbiome, and Neurodevelopmental Outcomes: A Prospective Birth Cohort Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(15), 9357; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19159357 - 30 Jul 2022
Viewed by 910
Abstract
Pregnant individuals are exposed to acetaminophen and caffeine, but it is unknown how these exposures interact with the developing gut microbiome. We aimed to determine whether acetaminophen and/or caffeine relate to the childhood gut microbiome and whether features of the gut microbiome alter [...] Read more.
Pregnant individuals are exposed to acetaminophen and caffeine, but it is unknown how these exposures interact with the developing gut microbiome. We aimed to determine whether acetaminophen and/or caffeine relate to the childhood gut microbiome and whether features of the gut microbiome alter the relationship between acetaminophen/caffeine and neurodevelopment. Forty-nine and 85 participants provided meconium and stool samples at 6–7, respectively, for exposure and microbiome assessment. Fecal acetaminophen and caffeine concentrations were quantified, and fecal DNA underwent metagenomic sequencing. Caregivers and study staff assessed the participants’ motor and cognitive development using standardized scales. Prenatal exposures had stronger associations with the childhood microbiome than concurrent exposures. Prenatal acetaminophen exposure was associated with a trend of lower gut bacterial diversity in childhood [β = −0.17 Shannon Index, 95% CI: (−0.31, −0.04)] and was marginally associated with differences in the relative abundances of features of the gut microbiome at the phylum (Firmicutes, Actinobacteria) and gene pathway levels. Among the participants with a higher relative abundance of Proteobacteria, prenatal exposure to acetaminophen and caffeine was associated with lower scores on WISC-IV subscales. Acetaminophen during bacterial colonization of the naïve gut is associated with lasting alterations in childhood microbiome composition. Future studies may inform our understanding of downstream health effects. Full article
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Article
Prenatal Exposure to Organophosphorus Pesticides and Preschool ADHD in the Norwegian Mother, Father and Child Cohort Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(13), 8148; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19138148 - 02 Jul 2022
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Abstract
Prenatal organophosphorus pesticide (OPP) exposure has been associated with child attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in agricultural communities and those that are exposed to residentially applied insecticides. To examine this association in populations that are exposed primarily through diet, we estimate the associations between prenatal [...] Read more.
Prenatal organophosphorus pesticide (OPP) exposure has been associated with child attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in agricultural communities and those that are exposed to residentially applied insecticides. To examine this association in populations that are exposed primarily through diet, we estimate the associations between prenatal OPP exposure and preschool ADHD in the Norwegian Mother, Father and Child Cohort Study (MoBa), and describe modification by paraoxonase 1 (PON1) gene variants. We used participants from the MoBa Preschool ADHD Sub-study (n = 259 cases) and a random sample of MoBa sub-cohort participants (n = 547) with birth years from 2004 to 2008. Prenatal urinary dialkylphosphate (DAP) metabolites (total diethylphosphate [∑DEP] and total dimethylphosphate [∑DMP]) were measured by an ultra-performance liquid chromatography-time-of-flight system and summed by molar concentration. Maternal DNA was genotyped for coding variants of PON1 (Q192R and L55M). We used a multivariable logistic regression to calculate the odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals, adjusted for maternal education, parity, income dependency, age, marital status, ADHD-like symptoms, pesticide use, produce consumption, and season. We found no associations between DAP metabolite concentrations and preschool ADHD. The adjusted ORs for exposure quartiles 2–4 relative to 1 were slightly inverse. No monotonic trends were observed, and the estimates lacked precision, likely due to the small sample size and variation in the population. We found no evidence of modification by PON1 SNP variation or child sex. Maternal urinary DAP concentrations were not associated with preschool ADHD. Full article

Other

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Brief Report
Ammunition Waste Pollution and Preliminary Assessment of Risks to Child Health from Toxic Metals at the Greek Refugee Camp Mavrovouni
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(16), 10086; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph191610086 - 15 Aug 2022
Viewed by 467
Abstract
The Mavrovouni refugee camp near the former Moria camp on the island of Lesvos, Greece, housed approximately 3000 asylum-seekers including children as of October 2021. The camp was built on the site of a military shooting range. This study aimed to characterize the [...] Read more.
The Mavrovouni refugee camp near the former Moria camp on the island of Lesvos, Greece, housed approximately 3000 asylum-seekers including children as of October 2021. The camp was built on the site of a military shooting range. This study aimed to characterize the soil contaminants and assess the risk of toxic environmental exposures for children living in Mavrovouni. Methods: Samples of surface soil (0–2 cm depth; particle size < 2 mm) from eight locations inside the camp were compared with two reference samples. Soil samples were microwave digested using a mixture of nitric and hydrofluoric acids and analyzed for lead (Pb), antimony (Sb), bismuth (Bi), and other metals using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. These values were compared with action limits established by the Norwegian Environment Agency for kindergartens, playgrounds, and schools. Findings: Five of eight soil samples from inside the camp exceeded Pb levels of 100 mg/kg, which is currently the maximum acceptable value of Pb in soil for playgrounds in Norway. Two sites had extreme soil Pb levels of approximately 8000 mg/kg and 6000 mg/kg. The concen-tration of Sb and Bi in the surface soil of the firing range area strongly indicated environmental contamination, most likely from previous military activity and ammunition residue that has re-mained on the surface soil. Concentrations of arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), copper (Cu), and zinc (Zn) in surface soil were lower than action limits. Discussion: Extremely high levels of Pb, together with high levels of Sb and Bi, were identified in soil where children live and play in the Mavrovouni refugee camp. This is the first independent study of environmental contamination at this camp and adds to the limited evidence base documenting Pb exposures prior to migrant and refugee reset-tlement. On top of the multiple existing public health crises and traumas that these asylum-seeking families face, exposure to toxic ammunition residues may have profound impacts on children’s development and health for years to come. Full article
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