NIEHS/EPA Children’s Environmental Health Centers: The UCSF Pregnancy Exposures to Environmental Chemicals (PEEC) Children's Center
Institution: University of California, San Francisco
Center Director: Tracey Woodruff
Project Period: July 2013 – June 2018
Project 1: How do endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) impact the placenta?
Project 2: How does exposure to EDCs during pregnancy affect the child later in life?
Project 3: What are the cumulative effects of EDCs and maternal stress on child growth and development?
Keywords: BPA, Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, Flame Retardants, Growth, PFOA/PFOS, Preterm Birth, Stress
Most people are exposed to chemicals every day, some of which are harmful to health. Chemical exposures are amplified in babies and children due to rapid development. This center is working to determine the impacts of some of these hazardous chemicals to babies during pregnancy. Research will focus on the effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) on child growth and development. EDCs interfere with the body’s natural hormones and can produce negative health effects. Common examples are Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs) and Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), compounds that are found in virtually all pregnant women in the U.S. Researchers suspect that EDCs damage the placenta during pregnancy, affecting the health of the child. These health effects can be made worse by social stress on the mother during pregnancy.
Project Abstract and Annual Reports: The UCSF Pregnancy Exposures to Environmental Chemicals (PEEC) Children's Center
Center Website: Pregnancy Exposures to Environmental Chemicals (PEEC) Children's Center Exit
Project 1: Project 1: Modeling the Effects of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals on the Early Stages of Human Placental Development
This project is studying the impact of EDCs on formation of the placenta. Specifically, they are investigating the effects of PBDEs, chemicals used as a flame retardant in common household items and PFOA, a chemical used as a water repellant in fabrics and leather. Researchers observe changes to the placenta during early fetal development as a result of exposure to these chemicals and determine the consequences of these changes.
Project Leaders: Susan Fisher, Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco
Project 2: Mid-Gestational Exposure to Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals and Effects on Placental Development
This project is investigating if exposures to EDCs negatively impact the placenta and affect child growth. Researchers measure levels of PBDEs, chemicals used as a flame retardant in common household items and PFCs, chemicals used in nonstick cookware in pregnant mothers and their babies. They also observe changes to the placenta during mid-development to determine if chemical exposures are having any effect.
Project Leaders: Tracey Woodruff, Ph.D., M.P.H., University of California, San Francisco
Project 3: Effects of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals and Chronic Psychosocial Stress on Fetal Grow
Low birth weight is one of the most significant maternal-child health problems in the U.S. It can result in negative health effects across the life span and is common among certain racial/ethnic and socioeconomic groups. Environmental and social factors may explain these trends, however the exact causes are unknown. Chronic stressors such as poverty, discrimination, lack of social support and income inequality are associated with adverse birth outcomes. This project is exploring whether chemical exposures during pregnancy affect birth weight and whether chronic stressors to the mother enhance the effects of chemical exposures on child growth.
Project Leader: Rachel Morello-Frosch, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley