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Children's Health Research regarding Pre-term Birth, Low Birth Weight, Birth Defects and Infant Mortality

Adverse birth outcomes include preterm birth, low birth weight, birth defects and infant mortality. Birth defects occur in approximately three percent of births in the United States and low birth weights are observed in 11 percent of births. EPA is conducting research on the potential association between birth outcomes and exposure to environmental contaminants in utero and early in life. 

Developing frameworks to understand the effects of chemical exposure on birth outcomes

A holistic understanding of the relationship between chemical exposures and potential birth outcomes is required to build predictive models that enable Agency decisions and actions to protect susceptible life stages. EPA is developing adverse outcome pathways (AOPs)--a framework that organizes existing information on how chemicals interact with biological systems to describe a sequence of developmental impacts or effects that can lead to adverse birth outcomes.

Using models to predict how chemicals impact development 

Virtual tissue models are advanced computer models and in vitro systems ("organs-on-a-chip") capable of simulating aspects of human development. These virtual tissue models are used by EPA to research how chemicals may impact thyroid function and subsequent adverse impacts on brain development.