Scientific Papers: 2021, 2020, 2019

Telomere Length, a Longevity Measure, May Be Determined Early in Life (EN eSPAñOL)
A NEW RESEARCH STUDY FINDS THAT TELOMERES SHORTEN MOST RAPIDLY DURING EARLY CHILDHOOD, REPLICATING, FOR THE FIRST TIME, STUDIES DONE IN ANIMAL MODELS

Telomeres are protective caps on DNA that shorten as we grow older. Now, one of the first studies to examine telomere length (TL) in childhood finds that the initial setting of TL during prenatal development and in the first years of life may determine one’s TL throughout childhood and potentially even into adulthood or older age. The study also finds that TL decreases most rapidly from birth to age 3, followed by a period of maintenance into the pre-puberty period, although it was sometimes seen to lengthen.

Citation: Whitney Cowell, Deliang Tang, Jie Yu, Jia Guo, Shuang Wang, Andrea A. Baccarelli, Frederica Perera, Julie B. Herbstman,
Telomere dynamics across the early life course: Findings from a longitudinal study in children, Psychoneuroendocrinology, Volume 129, 2021, 105270, ISSN 0306-4530, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2021.105270. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S030645302100144X)

A methodological pipeline to generate an epigenetic marker of prenatal exposure to air pollution indicators

The field of environmental health has lacked an accessible biomarker to identify newborns at elevated risk as a result of a toxic prenatal exposure, one that is feasible in a small sample of DNA in cord blood or in a bloodspot. Such a biomarker could be used to identify highly exposed newborns at increased risk of adverse outcomes, such as neurodevelopmental problems and other chronic illness, in order to initiate early interventions. 

Citation: Ya Wang , Frederica Perera , Jia Guo , Kylie W. Riley , Teresa Durham , Zev Ross , Cande V. Ananth , Andrea Baccarelli , Shuang Wang & Julie B. Herbstman (2021): A methodological pipeline to generate an epigenetic marker of prenatal exposure to air pollution indicators, Epigenetics, DOI: 10.1080/15592294.2021.1872926, 2021 January 21. 
 

Potential health benefits of sustained air quality improvements in New York City: A simulation based on air pollution levels during the COVID-19 shutdown

New York City (NYC) experienced a sharp decline in air pollution during the COVID-19 shutdown period (March 15, 2020 to May 15, 2020)-albeit at high social and economic costs. It provided a unique opportunity to simulate a scenario in which the city-wide air quality improvement during the shutdown were sustained over the five-year period, 2021 through 2025, allowing us to estimate the potential public health benefits to children and adults and their associated economic benefits. We focused on fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and modeled potential future health benefits to children and adults. The analysis considered outcomes in children that have not generally been accounted for in clean air benefits assessments, including preterm birth, term low birthweight, infant mortality, child asthma incidence, child asthma hospital admissions and emergency department visits, autism spectrum disorder, as well as adult mortality.

Citation: Perera F, Berberian A, Cooley D, Shenaut E, Olmstead H, Ross Z, Matte T. Potential health benefits of sustained air quality improvements in New York City: A simulation based on air pollution levels during the COVID-19 shutdown. Environ Res. 2021 Feb;193:110555. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2020.110555. Epub 2020 Dec 4. PMID: 33285156.
 

Characterizing peak exposure of secondhand smoke using a real-time PM 2.5 monitor

Although short-duration elevated exposures (peak exposures) to pollutants may trigger adverse acute effects, epidemiological studies to understand their influence on different health effects are hampered by lack of methods for objectively identifying peaks. Secondhand smoke from cigarettes (SHS) in the residential environment can lead to peak exposures. The aim of this study was to explore whether peaks in continuous PM2.5 data can indicate SHS exposure. A total of 41 children (21 with and 20 without SHS exposure based on self-report) from 28 families in New York City (NY, USA) were recruited. Both personal and residential continuous PM2.5 monitoring were performed for five consecutive days using MicroPEM sensors (RTI International, USA).

Citation: Zhang T, Chillrud SN, Yang Q, Pitiranggon M, Ross J, Perera F, Ji J, Spira A, Breysse PN, Rodes CE, Miller R, Yan B. Characterizing peak exposure of secondhand smoke using a real-time PM2.5 monitor. Indoor Air. 2020 Jan;30(1):98-107. doi: 10.1111/ina.12611. Epub 2019 Dec 11. PMID: 31610044; PMCID: PMC7137634.
 

Prenatal air pollution exposure and neurodevelopment: A review and blueprint for a harmonized approach within ECHO

Air pollution exposure is ubiquitous with demonstrated effects on morbidity and mortality. A growing literature suggests that prenatal air pollution exposure impacts neurodevelopment. We posit that the Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) program will provide unique opportunities to fill critical knowledge gaps given the wide spatial and temporal variability of ECHO participants.

Citation: Volk HE, Perera F, Braun JM, Kingsley SL, Gray K, Buckley J, Clougherty JE, Croen LA, Eskenazi B, Herting M, Just AC, Kloog I, Margolis A, McClure LA, Miller R, Levine S, Wright R; Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes. Prenatal air pollution exposure and neurodevelopment: A review and blueprint for a harmonized approach within ECHO. Environ Res. 2020 Oct 22:110320. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2020.110320. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33098817.

The associations between prenatal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon metabolites, umbilical cord blood mitochondrial DNA copy number, and children's neurobehavioral development

Exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) during pregnancy is a risk factor for adverse neurobehavioral development outcomes. Mitochondrial DNA are sensitive to environmental toxicants due to the limited ability of repairing. The change of mitochondrial DNA copy number (mtDNAcn) might be a biologically mechanism linking PAH exposure and children's neurobehavioral impairment. Our aims are to explore whether PAH metabolites in maternal urine were associated with children's neurobehavioral development at 2 years old and umbilical cord blood mtDNAcn, and whether mtDNAcn was a mediator of PAH-related neurobehavioral development. 

Citation: Cao X, a1, Lia J, 1, Chenga L, Denga, Y, Lia Y, Yana Z, Duana L, Yanga, J, Niua Q, Perer F ab, Nie J ab, Tang D b. 2020, April 16.
a Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, School of Public Health, Shanxi Medical University, Xinjiannan Road 56, Taiyuan, 030001, Shanxi, China
b Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, 722W. 168th Street, New York, NY, 10032, USA

 

COVID-19 Related School Closings and Risk of Weight Gain Among Children

Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic is causing substantial morbidity and mortality, straining health care systems, shutting down economies, and closing school districts. While it is a priority to mitigate its immediate impact, we want to call attention to the pandemic's longer-term effect on children's health: COVID-19, via these school closures, may exacerbate the epidemic of childhood obesity and increase disparities in obesity risk. 

Citation: Rundle AG, Park Y, Herbstman JB, Kinsey EW, Wang YC. COVID-19 Related School Closings and Risk of Weight Gain Among Children. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2020 Mar 30. doi: 10.1002/oby.22813.

Towards a Fuller Assessment of Benefits to Children's Health of Reducing Air Pollution and Mitigating Climate Change Due to Fossil Fuel Combustion 

Fossil fuel combustion by-products, including particulate matter (PM2.5), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and carbon dioxide (CO2), are a significant threat to children's health and equality. Various policies to reduce emissions have been implemented to reduce air pollution and mitigate climate change, with sizeable estimated health and economic benefits. However, only a few adverse outcomes in children have been considered, resulting in an undercounting of the benefits to this vulnerable population.

Citation: Shea E, Perera F, Mills D. ; Environmental Research, Elsevier, March 2020

Perinatal phthalates exposure decreases fine-motor functions in 11-year-old girls: Results from weighted Quantile sum regression

Phthalates are a group of high production chemicals, generally used as plasticizers and odor enhancers. Phthalates cross the blood-placenta barrier and are associated with deficits in cognitive functions and behavior problems in offspring. We previously reported sex-specific associations with motor function when phthalates are considered singly. Because exposure to phthalates usually occurs as mixtures, here we assess these associations between a mixture of phthalates and motor function at age 11 years.

Citation: Sharon Daniela,b, Arin A. Balalianc, Robin M. Whyattd, Xinhua Liue, Virginia Rauhf, Julie Herbstmand, Pam Factor-Litva, Environment International, Volume 136, March 2020, 105424

A powerful and flexible weighted distance-based method incorporating interactions between DNA methylation and environmental factors on health outcomes.

Abstract: Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) methylation plays a crucial role in human health. Studies have demonstrated associations between DNA methylation and environmental factors with evidence also supporting the idea that DNA methylation may modify the risk of environmental factors on health outcomes. 

Citation: Wang Y, Qian M, Tang D, Herbstman J, Perera F, Wang S. A powerful and flexible weighted distance-based method incorporating interactions between DNA methylation and environmental factors on health outcomes, Bioinformatics, Volume 36, Issue 3, 1 February 2020, Pages 653–659, https://doi.org/10.1093/bioinformatics/btz630

​Prenatal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons modifies the effects of early life stress on attention and Thought Problems in late childhood

Abstract: Risk for childhood psychopathology is complex and multifactorial, implicating direct and interacting effects of familial and environmental factors. The role of environmental neurotoxicants in psychiatric risk is of growing concern, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), common in air pollution. 

Citation: Pagliaccio D, Herbstman JB, Perera F, Tang D, Goldsmith J, Peterson BS, Rauh V, Margolis AE. Prenatal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons modifies the effects of early life stress on attention and Thought Problems in late childhood. J Child Psychology Psychiatry. 2020 Jan 7. doi: 10.1111/jcpp.13189.

The Association Between Perfluoroalkyl Substances and Lipids in Cord Blood

Abstract: Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) were among various persistent organic pollutants suspected to have been released during the collapse of the World Trade Center (WTC) on 9/11/2001. Evidence suggests that PFAS may have cardiometabolic effects, including alterations in lipid profiles. This study evaluated the association between cord blood PFAS and lipids in a population prenatally exposed to the WTC disaster.

Citation: Miranda J Spratlen, Frederica P Perera, Sally Ann Lederman, Morgan Robinson, Kurunthachalam Kannan, Julie Herbstman, Leonardo Trasande, The Association Between Perfluoroalkyl Substances and Lipids in Cord Blood, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 105, Issue 1, January 2020, Pages 43–54, https://doi.org/10.1210/clinem/dgz024

Towards a Fuller Assessment of the Economic Benefits of Reducing Air Pollution From Fossil Fuel Combustion: Per-case Monetary Estimates for Children's Health Outcomes 

 
Impacts on children's health are under-represented in benefits assessments of policies related to ambient air quality and climate change. To complement our previous compilation of concentration-response (C-R) functions for a number of children's health outcomes associated with air pollution, we provide per-case monetary estimates of the same health outcomes.
 
Citation: Shea E, Perera F, Mills D. Towards a fuller assessment of the economic benefits of reducing air pollution from fossil fuel combustion: Per-case monetary estimates for children's health outcomes. Environ Res. 2020;182:109019. doi:10.1016/j.envres.2019.109019
 

Prepregnancy obesity is associated with lower psychomotor development scores in boys at age 3 in a low-income, minority birth cohort

Whether maternal obesity and gestational weight gain (GWG) are associated with early-childhood development in low-income, urban, minority populations, and whether effects differ by child sex remain unknown. This study examined the impact of prepregnancy BMI and GWG on early childhood neurodevelopment in the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health Mothers and Newborns study. ...We found that prepregnancy obesity was associated with lower PDI scores at 3 years in boys, but not girls. The mechanisms underlying this sex-specific association remain unclear, but due to elevated obesity exposure in urban populations, further investigation is warranted.

Citation: Amy R. Nichols (a1), Andrew G. Rundle (a2) (a3), Pam Factor-Litvak (a3), Beverly J. Insel (a3) ...

 
 

Development and validation of a method to quantify benefits of clean-air taxi legislation (May 2019)

Air pollution from motor vehicle traffic remains a significant threat to public health. Using taxi inspection and trip data, we assessed changes in New York City’s taxi fleet following Clean Air Taxi legislation enacted in 2005–2006. Inspection and trip data between 2004 and 2015 were used to assess changes in New York’s taxi fleet and to estimate and spatially apportion annual taxi-related exhaust emissions of nitric oxide (NO) and total particulate matter (PMT). These emissions changes were used to predict reductions in NO and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations estimates using data from the New York City Community Air Survey (NYCCAS) in 2009–2015.

Citation: Fry, D., Kioumourtzoglou, M., Treat, C.A. et al. Development and validation of a method to quantify benefits of clean-air taxi legislation. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41370-019-0141-6

The Case of Juliana v. U.S. Children and the Health Burdens of Climate Change

On June 4, 2019, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in Juliana v. United States to determine whether the case will proceed to trial in district court in Oregon. Nearly 4 years ago, 21 children and adolescents between 8 and 19 years of age, including Kelsey Juliana from Oregon, filed suit against the federal government, charging that the government’s inaction on addressing climate change violated their constitutional right to life, liberty, and property.1 To date, no such lawsuit against the federal government has succeeded in the United States, despite a sharp increase in the number of similar suits filed by young people, municipalities, and state governments. Indeed, none of these lawsuits has gone to trial. As the Juliana plaintiffs argue — and we agree — climate change is the greatest public health emergency of our time and is particularly harmful to fetuses, infants, children, and adolescents.

 

Citation: Renee N. Salas, M.D., M.P.H., 

Wendy Jacobs, J.D., 

and Frederica Perera, Dr.P.H., Ph.D. May 30, 2019 N Engl J Med 2019; 380:2085-2087 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1905504