Profs. Rachel Miller and Robin Whyatt Answer Questions on Reddit

October 9, 2014

Rachel Miller and Robin Whyatt are environmental health scientists and co-deputy directors of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health at the Mailman School. They study how prenatal and early-life exposures to BPA and other chemicals in plastics and other household products affect children’s health, including child asthma and lower IQ.

They recently published a paper that shows a child’s risk of asthma is more than 70% higher when he or she is exposed in the womb to high levels of two ubiquitous chemicals—butylbenzyl phthalate (BBzP) and di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP). These chemicals are in everything from synthetic fragrances to plastic food containers, vinyl flooring, insect repellent, shower curtains, even steering wheels and dashboards ("new car smell" contains phthalates); although they are almost never labeled as such. Past research has looked at bisphenol A, or BPA (a chemical in plastics), focusing on the window of greatest vulnerability—in utero and early childhood.

Their studies are based on a cohort of pregnant women and their children in New York City, who we continue to follow. Some of the children are now 16 years old. 

Dr. Miller is a professor of Medicine (in Pediatrics) and chief of Pediatric Allergy, Immunology, and Rheumatology at Columbia University Medical Center. Dr. Whyatt is a professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the Mailman School.

Ask Them Anything on Reddit. They will answer questions starting at 1pm ET. Login ahead of time to ask your questions.

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Reddit, which calls itself the "front page of the Internet," is a social media site where online communities gather around topics of interest.

What is an Ask Me Anything (AMA)?

Ask Me Anythings are online discussions hosted by Reddit. They give anyone the opportunity to ask anything of a featured guest. The questions can be about the guest's own life, professional insights or anything at all—just like the name suggests. You do not need to sign up in order to read the conversation, but you will need to sign up (a short, painless and free procedure) if you want to contribute to the discussion or ask a question.

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