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Current Research

Our lab is actively engaged in several research projects, including:

To learn more about these studies and our overall research, please email Marnie Hazlehurst.

Melamine & Cyanuric Acid Exposure and Kidney Injury in Children

In 2018 we received additional funding to build on the work of the PATHWAYS GAPPS project and learn more about the impact of chemical exposures. Specifically, the funding will support additional analysis of urine collected from children at the GAPPS study visits to measure levels of melamine and cyanuric acid, which have been linked to kidney injury in children. This relationship and impact on child health had only been examined in studies outside of the United States at the time of funding.

Melamine is used to make industrial and household products including tableware, laminates, and adhesives, and cyanuric acid is used in bleach, chlorination systems, or as a nitrogen source in animal feed. Given the numerous potential sources of exposure, melamine and cyanuric acid exposures may be ubiquitous in the general population. Exposures likely occur from ingestion through the use of melamine tableware/plastics and/or from food and beverage contamination, but sources of exposure for children in the general population have not been investigated in epidemiologic studies. The knowledge gained from this study could inform policy and public health prevention efforts to reduce exposures in children, reducing the risk for kidney injury and future kidney disease.

Developing a remote assessment to measure cognitive stimulation

Dr. Cindy Trevino is the Principal Investigator of an NIH ECHO-funded supplement in which we are developing a remote measure to assess cognitive stimulation in a child’s home environment using ecological momentary assessment (EMA) and smartphone video recordings of parent-child interactions. Cognitive stimulation in early childhood refers to the quality and quantity of enriching learning experiences and activities available to a child in the home environment, and is positively associated with cognition, academic outcomes, and executive function. Cognitive stimulation has also been found to moderate the impact of environmental exposures on cognitive and behavior. This points to a promising pathway for intervention and targeted caregiver-focused interventions to promote cognitive stimulation in early childhood to buffer or offset the effects of prenatal exposure to environmental chemicals.

We have a manuscript under review describing the feasibility of developing a reliable 10-item cognitive stimulation scale derived from secondary data analysis using Home Observation Measurement of the Environment Infant/Toddler (HOME-IT) data from three NIH ECHO cohorts (Trevino et al., under review). Dr. Trevino has also received internal funding from the Seattle Children’s Research Institute to enhance our validation sample and expand this 10-item cognitive stimulation scale for Spanish-speaking families.

Identifying Patterns of Child Health Outcomes in a Large Multi-Cohort Study

Dr. Drew Day is the Principal Investigator of an NIH ECHO-funded supplement in which we are validating and then applying clustering methods to examine how pediatric outcomes collected across respiratory, obesity-related, and neurodevelopmental domains co-occur, with the aim of identifying subpopulations of children with high levels of multiple adverse outcomes and then examining predictors of membership in those subpopulations.

Prenatal Environmental Reproductive Hormone Concentrations (PERCH)

The TIDES study found that phthalate exposure can cause babies to be born with an unusually long – or short – distance between their genitals and anus. This may indicate that phthalate exposure affects how reproductive organs develop.

PERCH takes a closer look at this phenomenon, with hopes of pinpointing how phthalates alter reproductive development. The study uses data and specimens from TIDES participants to investigate the role of prenatal sex steroid hormones as a link between first trimester phthalate exposure and newborn anogenital distance (AGD).

Preventing Environmental Exposures in Pregnancy (PEEPS)

A woman and a man hold objects and pose for the cameraThe PEEPS study’s purpose was to determine how to reduce exposures to phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA), which are environmental chemicals commonly found in food. We developed two strategies, and compared how they affected the environmental chemical concentrations in the bodies of study participants.

The first intervention provided families with educational materials on how to decrease exposures, and with food storage containers made of stainless steel and glass, instead of plastic. The families were asked to follow these educational guidelines and use these alternative containers to the best of their abilities for a five-day period.

The second intervention provided families with a fresh food diet and alternative food storage containers for a five-day period.

We expected to see no significant change in environmental chemical concentrations in the first group, and a decrease in environmental chemical concentrations in the second group.

While we saw no significant change in concentrations in the first group, we saw a significant increase in BPA and phthalate concentrations for the group that was given fresh food and alternative storage containers.

This was unexpected, so we tested the foods that participants were given and found high concentrations of the chemicals in spices and high-fat dairy. Our results show that, without regulations to reduce phthalate and BPA concentrations in food production, it may be difficult to develop effective interventions.

Our results were published in a paper in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology.

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Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development
1920 Terry Ave.
Seattle, WA 98101

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