Georgia Birth Cohorts Study

Title: Novel Estimates of Pollutant Mixtures and Pediatric Health in Two Birth Cohorts

Investigators: Matthew Strickland, Ph.D. (PI, Emory), Lyndsey Darrow, Ph.D. (Emory), Mitchel Klein, Ph.D. (Emory), Yang Liu, Ph.D. (Emory), Lance Waller, Ph.D. (Emory), Randy Guensler, Ph.D. (Georgia Tech), James Mulholland, Ph.D. (Georgia Tech), Ted Russell, Ph.D. (Georgia Tech), and Robert Davis, M.D. (Kaiser)

Objectives. In utero and early life experiences affect physiological development and can influence sensitivity to environmental factors throughout life. In this project we will explore the interplay between certain early life events, characterizations of air pollutant mixtures developed as part of the Center’s Mixtures Characterization Toolkit, and a range of pediatric health outcomes using two large, population-based birth cohorts.

Approach. One cohort consists of roughly 2.3 million Georgia birth records that have been geocoded and linked with pediatric emergency department visits by staff at the Georgia Department of Human Resources. Using this statewide birth cohort, we will investigate acute effects of air pollution mixtures on respiratory health outcomes and ear infections in children, and we will assess whether children who were born premature or low birth weight are more sensitive to ambient air pollutant concentrations than their counterparts. Further, we will use the statewide birth cohort to investigate whether ambient air pollutant mixtures during pregnancy are associated with the risk of preterm delivery or reduced birth weight. The second birth cohort is comprised of children who were members of the Kaiser Permanente Georgia Health Maintenance Organization in metropolitan Atlanta. In this birth cohort, where comprehensive medical and residential histories are available for each study subject, we will examine whether air pollutant mixtures during the first year of life are associated with the incidence of childhood asthma.

Expected Results. This project will advance the science of atmospheric modeling, and it will provide evidence regarding the susceptibility of the developing fetus and children to ambient air pollutant mixtures. Permeating through the project is a strong focus on pollutant mixtures, which includes novel methods for both atmospheric and epidemiologic modeling, and a rigorous approach to data analysis that includes characterization of pollutant lag effects and concentration-response relationships.