During pregnancy, pollutants can cross the placenta and expose the developing fetus. Some pollutants, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (commonly found in the air) and second-hand smoke, are mutagenic and carcinogenic; others are endocrine disruptors capable of affecting child growth, development, and health. The children studied at the Center are representative of children living in urban areas, particularly underserved neighborhoods which are disproportionately exposed to harmful pollutants.
Our research has contributed evidence that exposure to pollutants during the sensitive fetal and early childhood periods can result in adverse health, including reduced fetal growth, impaired cognitive development, increased risk of obesity, and increased cancer risk. We have a team of more than three dozen highly trained scientific investigators in diverse fields who are studying the effects of early-life exposures to identify those most harmful and in need of regulation.