Pathways between maternal nutrition, toxicant exposure, home environment and child neurodevelopment
Elizabeth (Beth) Widen, PhD, RD
BACKGROUND: Maternal body mass index, pregnancy weight gain, prenatal toxicant exposures and the home environment are associated with child neurodevelopment. However, the pathways by which prenatal toxicant exposures interact with maternal body mass index and gestational weight gain to affect child neurodevelopment have not been identified, and no research findings demonstrating to what degree, if any, a nurturing home environment may mitigate these effects.
GAP: We will evaluate the pathways between maternal body mass index, pregnancy weight gain, prenatal toxicant exposures, home environment and child neurodevelopment at age 3 and 7.
HYPOTHESIS: We hypothesize that maternal obesity and greater pregnancy weight gain are associated with impaired child neurodevelopment at age 3 and 7. We hypothesize that effects of maternal obesity and greater pregnancy weight gain will be augmented by higher prenatal exposures to in-home pesticides and air pollution and diminished with high quality home environments.
METHODS: The study is a prospective birth cohort (n=727) of American and Dominican women and their children from low-income neighborhoods in the Bronx and Northern Manhattan. The study collected information during pregnancy on maternal weight gain, environmental toxicant exposures, home environment, and socioeconomic status, and assessed child neurodevelopment at age 3 and 7 years.
IMPACT: This work will inform evidenced based guidelines for women’s prepregnancy health and pregnancy weight gain that aim to optimize childhood health and neurodevelopment, and further, may aid in developing interventions and screening to identity children who need enhanced early intervention and support to enrich the home environment.