Little Things Matter: Children’s Health and the Impact of Low-Level Exposure to Toxins on the Developing Brain

Children’s health is, to a large extent, a function of their environment. Exposures to toxins during fetal and early childhood development are risk factors for learning and behavioral problems in children. New research is linking low-level exposure to lead, mercury and PCBs with adverse effects at levels previously thought to be safe. There are also data linking exposures to pesticides and synthetic chemicals commonly found in household products with learning and behavioral problems. Dr. Bruce Lanphear MD, MPH, has studied children’s environmental health for nearly two decades and is currently principal investigator for the HOME Study, a 400-person birth cohort study, designed to examine the impact of low-level exposures to toxins on learning and behavioral problems in children.

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Bruce Lanphear, MD, MPH, is a Senior Scientist at the Child & Family Research Institute, BC Children’s Hospital and Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia. His primary research has been on quantifying and preventing the adverse consequences of low-level lead toxicity. The long-term goal of his research is to prevent common diseases and disabilities in children, such as asthma and ADHD. To quantify the contribution of risk factors, he tests various ways to measure children’s exposures to environmental toxicants using novel biomarkers measured during pregnancy and early childhood. Dr. Lanphear also designs experimental trials to test the efficacy of reducing children’s exposures to environmental hazards on asthma symptoms and behavioral problems.

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