For the past 10 years, Northeastern-led research teams have been studying how the environment affects the health and development of mothers, infants, and children living on the island of Puerto Rico. Although Puerto Rico is fewer than 1,000 miles from Miami, its preterm birth rate is among the highest in the world. Studies show that the region’s children also suffer disproportionately from obesity, autism, and asthma.
Now, the researchers have received a $13.2 million grant from a program of the National Institutes of Health to build on their study and begin exchanging information and findings with other health centers around the country. Through this NIH program, Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes, the health data of 50,000 diverse children in cohorts across the United States will be aggregated to understand the effects of a broad range of early environmental influences on child health and development from birth through childhood and adolescence.