International Journal of Obesity publishes ECHO-wide analysis of environmental factors and obesity risk

October 24, 2019

ECHO PATHWAYS PI Fran Tylavsky was first author in the article "Understanding childhood obesity in the US: The NIH Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program,” published by the journal International Journal of Obesity. This is the first analysis using ECHO-wide data and looks at the relationship between early life environment and later obesity. The paper describes demographic factors and obesity prevalence, illustrating the value of the diversity of the large sample size of ECHO cohorts.


New York Times features ECHO PATHWAYS mPI Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana in article on safety of plastics

September 19, 2019

ECHO PATHWAYS mPI Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana consulted on a New York Times Parenting article titled “The Types of Plastics Families Should Avoid.” Dr. Sathyanarayana provided practical guidance on how to reduce exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals in certain plastics, particularly phthalates and bisphenols, which families encounter in common, everyday products.


ECHO PATHWAYS investigators present at ISEE 2019

August 28, 2019

Several ECHO PATHWAYS investigators presented recent findings at the 31st annual conference of the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology in Utrecht, Netherlands, August 25-28, 2019. 

PI Dr. Catherine Karr presented on relationships between prenatal phthalate exposure and child asthma, and PI Dr. Kaja LeWinn described relationships between prenatal phthalate exposure and childhood cognitive performance.  Other ECHO PATHWAYS investigators presenting at the conference included Dr. Drew Day, Marnie Hazlehurst, Dr. Christine Loftus, Dr. Sabah Quraishi, and Dr. Adam Szpiro.


Findings on prenatal exposure to air pollution, child neurodevelopment and maternal nutrition published in Environmental Research

August 15, 2019

ECHO PATHWAYS investigators conducted a study of outdoor air pollution and child IQ in the CANDLE cohort, to be published in the Sept 2019 issue of Environmental Research. Prior research has suggested that exposure to air pollution prenatally or during early childhood can interfere with healthy neurodevelopment, increasing risk of variety of adverse outcomes throughout childhood, such as behavior problems, diagnosis of ADHD and lower cognitive ability. The findings are largely based in animal studies, however, and evidence in humans is mixed. Also, little is known about factors that may increase susceptibility or protect against neurotoxic effects of air pollution, such as child sex, poverty, or maternal nutrition during pregnancy.

In our study, we leveraged the rich data collection of the CANDLE study, a large sample size, and national air pollution models developed at the University of Washington to investigate these questions. We observed a reduction in child IQ at age 4 associated with higher particulate matter exposure in pregnancy. We also found that these adverse effects appeared to be stronger with lower concentrations of folate, a B-vitamin necessary for many essential cellular functions. This suggests a possible protective effect of prenatal folate on the neurotoxic effects of air pollution; if confirmed with additional research, these findings could hold importance for public health practice.

Dr. Kaja LeWinn, ECHO PATHWAYS PI, was senior author and Dr. Christine Loftus, ECHO PATHWAYS epidemiologist, was first author on this paper.  Media coverage included a front page article in The Times of London, a story on KQED, a local radio station in San Francisco, and a story on WKNO, an NPR affiliate in Memphis.


ECHO funding awarded to Dr. Alison Paquette to investigate placental gene expression as a mediator of environmental influences on child health

June 14, 2019

Dr. Alison Paquette, an investigator at the Institute of Systems Biology, was awarded an ECHO Opportunities in Infrastructure Fund (OIF) award to conduct research within PATHWAYS that will help elucidate the role of the placenta in child health and development. Working with the ECHO PATHWAYS team and existing transcriptomic analyses of banked placenta in the CANDLE and GAPPS cohort, Dr. Paquette and collaborating scientists will untangle the complex relationships and identify key regulators of gene expression in the placenta. She will apply this approach to gain insight into how environmental exposures influence placental gene expression, as well as how alterations in placental gene expression predict child health trajectories. Furthermore, she will apply this funding to develop tools for the broader ECHO community to utilize this transcription network, greatly enhancing the capacity of ECHO to explore molecular changes in the placenta that affect child health. Dr. Paquette’s award begins in September 2019 and will continue for two years.


ECHO PATHWAYS at the 2019 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting

April 24, 2019

ECHO PATHWAYS investigators presented recent findings at the national Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting, held in Baltimore, MD, April 24 – May 1, 2019. Dr. Kecia Carroll described an investigation of prenatal phthalate exposure and asthma in the TIDES and CANDLE cohorts. The results primarily showed no adverse effects of phthalates on risk of asthma, though some intriguing differences by child sex were observed. This is one of the largest pediatric cohort studies of phthalates and asthma conducted to date. Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana presented findings from the TIDES cohort showing that higher levels of maternal hormones during pregnancy are linked to child behavior during preschool. Dr. Alison Paquette was an invited speaker at a symposium, Using Genomics Approaches to Examine the Role of the Placenta in the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, and described preliminary work on a transcription regulatory network constructed with analyses of placenta from CANDLE and other cohorts.


Commentary in Pediatrics on positive health and resiliency by Dr. Nicole Bush

March 10, 2019

ECHO PATHWAYS mPI, Dr. Nicole Bush, and a colleague at USCF, Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, published a commentary in the journal Pediatrics, “Power of the Positive: Childhood Assets and Future Cardiometabolic Health.” They describe the importance of characterizing protective and resilience-building factors, such as positive relationships and neighborhood factors, in research on pediatric health and development. Research has traditionally focused on childhood adversity and risk factors, but recent research by Dr. Bush and others has shown that accounting for positive factors can give a more complete perspective on the determinants of child health. For example, Dr. Bush and colleagues showed that neighborhood opportunity, a positive asset, appears to buffer the adverse effects of early life stress on later physical health. In their commentary, Drs. Bush and Bibbins-Domingo highlight how ECHO is uniquely poised to expand upon this area of science in years to come.


ECHO PATHWAYS mPI, Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana, selected for ECHO Cohort Strategic Planning Task Force

January 12, 2019

The ECHO Program recently assembled a task force that will lead its effort to prioritize ECHO resources towards the most impactful research investigations in the coming years.  The expert team will establish a process to identify key scientific questions whose answers will inform new discoveries about how a broad range of exposures from conception to age five influence child health outcomes, and have the highest probability for major influence on programs, practices, and policies. Candidates across the ECHO community were nominated, and ECHO PATHWAYS mPI Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana was selected.  The group’s members will represent all outcome and exposure groups, and ECHO program components.