Maternal & Child Health Research

Adolescent Health Evidence Synthesis
Mental Health
Aging & Gerontology Global Health
Maternal & Child Health
Cancer Health Disparities & Culture
Physical Activity & Obesity
Drugs & Alcohol Healthcare Policy
Environmental Health  HIV/AIDS

Patterns of Infant and Childhood Overweight and Obesity Status

Excess weight gain in infancy and childhood is associated with increased risk of subsequent obesity. Identifying patterns of infancy and childhood weight gain associated with subsequent obesity or overweight status could help identify children at highest risk.  This study, published by BMC Pediatrics and conducted by lead author Joseph Braun, assistant professor of epidemiology,  examined patterns of infancy and early childhood BMI in relation to mid-childhood overweight and obesity status. READ MORE

Increased Exposure to Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals Associated with Decreased Thyroid Hormones in Pregnant Women and Newborns

Phthalatesendocrine-disrupting chemicals that are commonly found in consumer products, may adversely affect thyroid hormones, but findings from prior epidemiologic studies are inconsistent. In a prospective cohort study, published in The International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Healthand led by Megan Romano, adjunct assistant professor of epidemiology, researchers investigated whether maternal urinary phthalate metabolite concentrations and phthalate mixtures measured during pregnancy were associated with thyroid hormones among pregnant women and newborns. READ MORE

Breastfeeding Intentions Prone to Evolve Throughout Pregnancy

This study, conducted by Patricia Markham Risica, associate professor of epidemiology and behavioral and social sciences, and published in Public Health Nutrition sought to examine the changes in breastfeeding-related knowledge, attitudes, and self-efficacy, and prenatal breastfeeding intentions among low-income smoke-exposed women during the course of pregnancy. Furthermore, the study also examined how changes in knowledge, barriers, and self-efficacy may influence feeding behaviors among women who had not yet decided on feeding plans early in their pregnancies. READ MORE

Urinary Triclosan Concentration during Pregnancy Associated with Birth Outcomes









Triclosan is an antimicrobial chemical that is widely used in some toothpastes, mouthwashes, soaps, cosmetics, lotions, textiles, toys, and kitchenware; exposure is extremely common in pregnant women in the Unites States. The purpose of this study, Environmental Research, was to assess the relationship between exposure to triclosan in pregnancy and birth outcomes, using a prospective pregnancy and birth cohort in the greater Cincinnati, Ohio metropolitan area. READ MORE

Organophosphate Flame Retardant Metabolites among Pregnant Women in Rhode Island

Pregnant women in Rhode Island are commonly exposed to several different organophosphate flame retardants, according to a new study published in Environmental Health. To meet state and federal flammability standards, consumer products are often treated with chemical flame retardants. Following the 2004 phase out of specific mixtures of flame retardants due to health and safety concerns, organophosphate flame retardants have been increasingly used in consumer products including residential furniture and baby products. Data on both human exposure to these chemicals and associated potential adverse health outcomes is still limited, particularly during the sensitive window of pregnancy. The purpose of this study was to assess the concentrations of nine urinary metabolites of organophosphate flame retardant among pregnant women in Rhode Island and the associations of these urinary metabolites with sociodemographic and dietary predictors. READ MORE

Statin Use and the Risk of Diabetes in Children and Adolescents

The prescription of statins, a class of drug commonly used in cholesterol control, is very rare in children and adolescents. However, recent decisions by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute to recommend statins as a first line treatment for hyperlipidemia in children aged 8 or older has intensified the debate over the short- and long-term risk versus benefits of statin use in this population. Recent studies in adults suggests that statin use is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes between 9% and 28%. However, this association has not yet been explored in children. The purpose of this study, published in Academic Pediatrics and led by Nina Joyce, a recent doctoral graduate from the Department of Epidemiology and current post-doctoral research fellow at Harvard Medical School, was to evaluate the relationship between statin use and type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents. READ MORE

Tailored Video Intervention to Reduce Smoking and Environmental Tobacco Exposure during and After Pregnancy

The purpose of this paper, published in Contemporary Clinical Trials and led by Patricia Risica, Assistant Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, and faculty member in the Center for Health Equity Research, was to describe the Baby’s Breath study; a randomized, controlled trial of a tailored video intervention. The study aimed to test the efficacy of tailored video verses usual care approaches to reduce the ETS exposure of fetuses of low-income women during and after pregnancy; and to assess this intervention separately among non-smoking and smoking women. READ MORE

The Associations between Prenatal Major Depressive Disorder, Placenta Glucocorticoid, Serotonergic Signaling, and Infant Cortisol Response

Fetal programming of offspring brain and stress systems is a prominent proposed mechanism underlying links between prenatal adversity and offspring health and behavioral outcomes. In particular, placental enzymes regulating maternal-fetal glucocorticoid and serotonin transfer have been proposed as key modulators of fetal programming effects of maternal depression. The purpose of this study, published in Psychosomatic Medicine and led by Laura Stroud, associate professor of behavioral and social Sciences and faculty member in the Centers for Behavioral and Preventative Medicine, was to test the association between maternal prenatal major depressive disorder and infant cortisol regulation, as well as evaluate placenta glucocorticoid and serotonin signaling as moderators of this relationship. read more

Prenatal Phthalate Exposure and Infant Size at Birth and Gestational Duration

Phthalates are found in a wide variety of consumer products including lotions, perfumes, food processing equipment, adhesives, and rainwear. As such, phthalate exposure is widespread, including among pregnant women. The purpose of this study, published in Environmental Research and led by Jessica Shoaff, PhD candidate in the Department of Epidemiology, was to quantify the relationship between maternal urinary phthalate concentrations and infant birth weight, length, head circumference, and gestational duration. read more

Patterns and Predictors of Medication Adherence to Lipid-lowering Therapy in Children Aged 8 to 20 Years

This study, published in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology and led by Nina R. Joyce, an alumnus of the department of epidemiology doctoral program and a post-doctoral fellow in the department of health care policy at Harvard Medical School, was to identify patterns of use and predictors of nonadherence to lipid-lowering therapy in children aged 8 to 20 years and the subgroup with dyslipidemia. read more

The Food and Activity Environments of Childcare Found to Be Promising Areas for Improving Nutrition and Activity for Children

This study, published in BMC Nutrition, by Patricia Markham Risica, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Behavioral and Social Sciences, was to assess the current state of food served and physical activity practices of Rhode Island childcare centers to identify potential areas for improvement in the DCYF regulations and implementation, by comparing centers with and without USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program participation to assess the potential influence of guidelines in the environments of childcare centers. read more

The Effects of Environmental Exposures on Fetal and Childhood Growth Trajectories

This review, published in  Annals of Global Health by Professor of Epidemiology Tongzhang Zheng, summarizes up-to-date epidemiologic studies linking major environmental pollutants to fetal and child development and suggested future directions for further investigation. read more