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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: 31 December 2024 | Viewed by 27372

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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 monthly 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 (12 papers)

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Editorial

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6 pages, 311 KiB  
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”
by Halina B. Röllin
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(14), 8816; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19148816 - 20 Jul 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1704
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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10 pages, 521 KiB  
Article
The Impact of Environmental Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene, and Xylene Exposure on Blood-Based DNA Methylation Profiles in Pregnant African American Women from Detroit
by Jennifer K. Straughen, Ian Loveless, Yalei Chen, Charlotte Burmeister, Lois Lamerato, Lawrence D. Lemke, Brendan F. O’Leary, John J. Reiners, F. Gianluca Sperone, Albert M. Levin and Andrea E. Cassidy-Bushrow
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2024, 21(3), 256; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph21030256 - 23 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1326
Abstract
African American women in the United States have a high risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes. DNA methylation is a potential mechanism by which exposure to BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes) may cause adverse pregnancy outcomes. Data are from the Maternal Stress Study, [...] Read more.
African American women in the United States have a high risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes. DNA methylation is a potential mechanism by which exposure to BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes) may cause adverse pregnancy outcomes. Data are from the Maternal Stress Study, which recruited African American women in the second trimester of pregnancy from February 2009 to June 2010. DNA methylation was measured in archived DNA from venous blood collected in the second trimester. Trimester-specific exposure to airshed BTEX was estimated using maternal self-reported addresses and geospatial models of ambient air pollution developed as part of the Geospatial Determinants of Health Outcomes Consortium. Among the 64 women with exposure and outcome data available, 46 differentially methylated regions (DMRs) were associated with BTEX exposure (FDR adjusted p-value < 0.05) using a DMR-based epigenome-wide association study approach. Overall, 89% of DMRs consistently exhibited hypomethylation with increasing BTEX exposure. Biological pathway analysis identified 11 enriched pathways, with the top 3 involving gamma-aminobutyric acid receptor signaling, oxytocin in brain signaling, and the gustation pathway. These findings highlight the potential impact of BTEX on DNA methylation in pregnant women. Full article
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12 pages, 749 KiB  
Article
Predictors of Maternal Serum Concentrations for Selected Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Pregnant Women and Associations with Birth Outcomes: A Cross-Sectional Study from Southern Malawi
by Mphatso Mwapasa, Sandra Huber, Bertha Magreta Chakhame, Alfred Maluwa, Maria Lisa Odland, Victor Ndhlovu, Halina Röllin, Shanshan Xu and Jon Øyvind Odland
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(7), 5289; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20075289 - 28 Mar 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1314
Abstract
Population exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) may result in detrimental health effects, especially to pregnant women, developing foetuses and young children. We are reporting the findings of a cross-sectional study of 605 mothers in their late pregnancy, recruited between August 2020 and [...] Read more.
Population exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) may result in detrimental health effects, especially to pregnant women, developing foetuses and young children. We are reporting the findings of a cross-sectional study of 605 mothers in their late pregnancy, recruited between August 2020 and July 2021 in southern Malawi, and their offspring. The aim was to measure the concentrations of selected POPs in their maternal serum and indicate associations with social demographic characteristics and birth outcomes. A high level of education was the main predictor of p,p′-DDE (p = 0.008), p,p′-DDT (p < 0.001), cis-NC (p = 0.014), o,p′-DDT (p = 0.019) and o,p′-DDE (p = 0.019) concentrations in maternal serum. Multiparity was negatively associated with o,p′-DDE (p = 0.021) concentrations. Maternal age was also positively associated (p,p′-DDE (p = 0.013), o,p′-DDT (p = 0.017) and o,p′-DDE (p = 0.045) concentrations. Living in rural areas was inversely associated with high maternal serum concentrations of p,p′-DDT (p < 0.001). Gestational age was positively associated with p,p′-DDE (p = 0.031), p,p′-DDT (p = 0.010) and o,p′-DDT (p = 0.022) concentrations. Lastly, an inverse association was observed between head circumference and t-NC (p = 0.044), Oxychlordane (p = 0.01) and cis-NC (p = 0.048). These results highlight the need to continue monitoring levels of POPs among vulnerable populations in the southern hemisphere. Full article
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14 pages, 562 KiB  
Article
Serum Concentrations of Selected Poly- and Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs) in Pregnant Women and Associations with Birth Outcomes. A Cross-Sectional Study from Southern Malawi
by Mphatso Mwapasa, Sandra Huber, Bertha Magreta Chakhame, Alfred Maluwa, Maria Lisa Odland, Halina Röllin, Augustine Choko, Shanshan Xu and Jon Øyvind Odland
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(3), 1689; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20031689 - 17 Jan 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1791
Abstract
Pervasive exposure to per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) shows associations with adverse pregnancy outcomes. The aim of the present study was to examine the determinants of different serum PFAS concentrations in late pregnancy and their relationship with birth outcomes in southern Malawi. The sample [...] Read more.
Pervasive exposure to per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) shows associations with adverse pregnancy outcomes. The aim of the present study was to examine the determinants of different serum PFAS concentrations in late pregnancy and their relationship with birth outcomes in southern Malawi. The sample included 605 pregnant women with a mean age of 24.8 years and their offspring from three districts in the southern region of Malawi. Six PFAS were measured in serum from third-trimester women. The serum PFAS concentrations were assessed with head circumference, birth length, birth weight, gestational age and ponderal index. Participants living in urban areas had significantly higher serum levels of PFOA, PFNA and SumPFOS, while SumPFHxS concentrations were higher in women from rural settings. High PFOA, PFNA and SumPFHxS concentrations were generally inversely associated with head circumference. Birth length was negatively associated with PFOA and PFNA while SumPFHxS was negatively associated with birth weight. SumPFOS was inversely associated with gestational age. Urban area of residence was the strongest predictor for high PFAS concentrations in the maternal serum and was generally associated with adverse birth outcomes. The results highlight the need to investigate SumPFHxS further as it follows a pattern that is different to similar compounds and cohorts. Full article
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20 pages, 687 KiB  
Article
Associations between Prenatal Exposure to Phthalates and Features of the Metabolic Syndrome in Males from Childhood into Adulthood
by Ye’elah E. Berman, Dorota A. Doherty, Trevor A. Mori, Lawrence J. Beilin, Oyekoya T. Ayonrinde, Leon A. Adams, Rae-Chi Huang, John K. Olynyk, Jeffrey A. Keelan, John P. Newnham and Roger J. Hart
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(22), 15244; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph192215244 - 18 Nov 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1647
Abstract
Phthalate metabolites are detectable within the majority of the population. Evidence suggests that a prenatal exposure to phthalates may be associated with the subsequent risks of obesity and elevated blood pressure. We hypothesised that a prenatal exposure to phthalates would lead to an [...] Read more.
Phthalate metabolites are detectable within the majority of the population. Evidence suggests that a prenatal exposure to phthalates may be associated with the subsequent risks of obesity and elevated blood pressure. We hypothesised that a prenatal exposure to phthalates would lead to an increase in adverse cardiometabolic parameters through childhood and adulthood. The maternal serum phthalate measurements from the stored samples taken from Gen1 mothers at 18 and 34 weeks gestation were examined in relation to the cardiometabolic measures in 387 male offspring from the Raine Study. Data from the Gen2 follow-ups between 3 and 27 years were used. The primary outcomes were analysed longitudinally using linear mixed models for the repeated measures. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) was assessed at 17 years using logistic regression. A consistent positive relationship was observed between a prenatal exposure to mono-carboxy-iso-octyl phthalate (MCiOP) through adolescence into adulthood with systolic blood pressure. There were no other consistent cardiovascular associations. Mid-levels of prenatal exposures to Mono-n-butyl phthalate (MnBP) were associated with a greater incidence of NAFLD. Detectable Mono-3-carboxypropyl phthalate (MCPP) was associated with a lower serum HDL-C through late childhood into adulthood, while a higher prenatal exposure to mono-iso-butyl phthalate (MiBP), was associated with a higher LDL-C at 22 years of age. A mid-level prenatal exposure to mono-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (MEHP) metabolites was associated with higher insulin in adulthood, while a higher prenatal exposure to the sum of the Di-(2-ethyl-hexyl) phthalate (DEHP) and Di-iso-nonyl phthalate (DiNP) metabolites was associated with higher fasting serum glucose in adulthood. In conclusion, our study demonstrated that higher prenatal phthalate exposures to some phthalate metabolites was associated with some adverse metabolic profiles through adolescence into adulthood, although the consistent themes were limited to a few metabolites and the outcomes of systolic blood pressure, fasting insulin and glucose. Full article
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22 pages, 7800 KiB  
Article
Deeply in Plasticenta: Presence of Microplastics in the Intracellular Compartment of Human Placentas
by Antonio Ragusa, Maria Matta, Loredana Cristiano, Roberto Matassa, Ezio Battaglione, Alessandro Svelato, Caterina De Luca, Sara D’Avino, Alessandra Gulotta, Mauro Ciro Antonio Rongioletti, Piera Catalano, Criselda Santacroce, Valentina Notarstefano, Oliana Carnevali, Elisabetta Giorgini, Enrico Vizza, Giuseppe Familiari and Stefania Annarita Nottola
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(18), 11593; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph191811593 - 14 Sep 2022
Cited by 39 | Viewed by 5612
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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14 pages, 2469 KiB  
Article
In Utero Exposure to Caffeine and Acetaminophen, the Gut Microbiome, and Neurodevelopmental Outcomes: A Prospective Birth Cohort Study
by Hannah E. Laue, Yike Shen, Tessa R. Bloomquist, Haotian Wu, Kasey J. M. Brennan, Raphael Cassoulet, Erin Wilkie, Virginie Gillet, Anne-Sandrine Desautels, Nadia Abdelouahab, Jean Philippe Bellenger, Heather H. Burris, Brent A. Coull, Marc G. Weisskopf, Wei Zhang, Larissa Takser and Andrea A. Baccarelli
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(15), 9357; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19159357 - 30 Jul 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2743
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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16 pages, 395 KiB  
Article
Prenatal Exposure to Organophosphorus Pesticides and Preschool ADHD in the Norwegian Mother, Father and Child Cohort Study
by Cherrel K. Manley, Gro D. Villanger, Cathrine Thomsen, Enrique Cequier, Amrit K. Sakhi, Ted Reichborn-Kjennerud, Amy H. Herring, Kristin R. Øvergaard, Pal Zeiner, Kyle R. Roell, Lawrence S. Engel, Elizabeth M. Kamai, Jake Thistle, Amber Hall, Heidi Aase and Stephanie M. Engel
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(13), 8148; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19138148 - 02 Jul 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2377
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

Review

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19 pages, 6853 KiB  
Review
Vascular Effects, Potential Pathways and Mediators of Fetal Exposure to Alcohol and Cigarette Smoking during Pregnancy: A Narrative Review
by Tammy C. Hartel, André Oelofse and Juléy J. A. De Smidt
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(14), 6398; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20146398 - 19 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1527
Abstract
(1) Background: Programming of atherosclerosis results in vascular structure and function alterations, which may be attributed to fetal exposure to maternal tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption and several lifestyle factors in the first few years of life. This review aims to study the effects [...] Read more.
(1) Background: Programming of atherosclerosis results in vascular structure and function alterations, which may be attributed to fetal exposure to maternal tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption and several lifestyle factors in the first few years of life. This review aims to study the effects of teratogen exposure in utero on vascular dysfunction in offspring and consider mediators and pathways originating from the fetal environment. (2) Methods: Eligible studies were identified in the PubMed, Scopus and Web of Science databases. After the full-text screening, 20 articles were included in the narrative synthesis. (3) Results: The literature presents evidence supporting the detrimental effects of fetal exposure to tobacco smoking on vascular alterations in both human and animal studies. Alcohol exposure impaired endothelial dilation in animal studies, but human studies on both tobacco and alcohol exposure are still sparse. Reduction in nitric oxide (NO) bioavailability and alterations in the epigenome in infants through the upregulation of pro-oxidative and proinflammatory genes may be the common denominators. (4) Conclusion: While maternal smoking and alcohol consumption have more negative outcomes on the infant in the short term, several factors during the first few years of life may mediate the development of vascular dysfunction. Therefore, more prospective studies are needed to ascertain the long-term effects of teratogen exposure, specifically in South Africa. Full article
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21 pages, 2516 KiB  
Review
Prenatal Exposure to Air Pollutants and Attentional Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Development in Children: A Systematic Review
by Sharanpreet Kaur, Paula Morales-Hidalgo, Victoria Arija and Josefa Canals
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(8), 5443; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20085443 - 07 Apr 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2566
Abstract
Up to 9.5% of the world’s population is diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), making it one of the most common childhood disorders. Air pollutants could be considered an environmental risk condition for ADHD, but few studies have specifically investigated the effect of [...] Read more.
Up to 9.5% of the world’s population is diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), making it one of the most common childhood disorders. Air pollutants could be considered an environmental risk condition for ADHD, but few studies have specifically investigated the effect of prenatal exposure. The current paper reviews the studies conducted on the association between prenatal air pollutants (PM, NOx, SO2, O3, CO and PAH) and ADHD development in children. From the 890 studies searched through PubMed, Google Scholar, Scopus, and Web of Science, 15 cohort studies met the inclusion criteria. NOS and WHO guidelines were used for quality and risk of bias assessment. The accumulative sample was 589,400 of children aged 3–15 years. Most studies reported an association between ADHD symptoms and prenatal PAH and PM exposure. Data available on NO2 and SO2 were inconsistent, whereas the effect of CO/O3 is barely investigated. We observed heterogeneity through an odd ratio forest plot, and discrepancies in methodologies across the studies. Eight of the fifteen studies were judged to be of moderate risk of bias in the outcome measurement. In a nutshell, future studies should aim to minimize heterogeneity and reduce bias by ensuring a more representative sample, standardizing exposure and outcome assessments. Full article
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14 pages, 3368 KiB  
Review
A Bibliometric Analysis of Literature on Prenatal Exposure to Air Pollution: 1994–2022
by Bukola G. Olutola and Paulina Phoobane
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(4), 3076; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20043076 - 09 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1245
Abstract
Early life exposure to air pollutants during pregnancy is one of the leading causes of different health outcomes. However, few studies have provided an overview of this area of research. The aim of this study was to look at the key trends in [...] Read more.
Early life exposure to air pollutants during pregnancy is one of the leading causes of different health outcomes. However, few studies have provided an overview of this area of research. The aim of this study was to look at the key trends in the research on prenatal exposure to air pollution. Data were retrieved from Web of Science, and the search was conducted based on the paper title, abstract, and keywords. The relevant literature searched was from 1994 to 2022, and 952 English documents were obtained. Of the total documents, 438 documents were included in the review and 83% (n = 365) of the documents were journal articles. Type of document, annual distribution of publications, and distribution of prenatal exposure by countries were extracted. Co-authorship and keywords co-occurrence analyses were also carried out. Of all the countries that published in this field, the United States of America. had the highest number of publications, followed by China. Among the different health and environmental disciplines, 62% (n = 273) of papers came from environmental science. There were limited collaborations among researchers from different countries and institutions. In conclusion, there should be more collaboration among the researchers in this field regarding institutions, countries, and disciplines. Full article
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Other

12 pages, 2269 KiB  
Brief Report
Ammunition Waste Pollution and Preliminary Assessment of Risks to Child Health from Toxic Metals at the Greek Refugee Camp Mavrovouni
by Katrin Glatz Brubakk, Elin Lovise Folven Gjengedal, Øyvind Enger and Kam Sripada
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(16), 10086; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph191610086 - 15 Aug 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1846
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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