Integrating psychosocial stress into children's molecular epidemiology research: An investigation of flame retardants, telomeres and neuroendocrine development

Whitney J. Cowell
& Objectives: This dissertation is comprised of two independent projects that seek to answer the research questions outlined in Aims 1 and 2. The first project is focused on measuring exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) throughout the early lifecourse, as well as investigating how exposure at different developmental periods relates to neuroendocrine endpoints. PBDEs are flame retardant chemicals that were used extensively in furniture and furnishings sold throughout the United
more » ... es until their phase-out in 2004. Human exposure occurs primarily through incidental ingestion of PBDE-contaminated dust present in the indoor environment. The second project aimed to characterize telomere dynamics in maternal-child pairs and to evaluate associations between telomere dynamics and indicators of stress and stressful conditions. Telomeres are non-coding nucleotide repeats located at chromosome ends; they serve several functions, such as buffering against loss of important protein coding DNA regions during cell division. Both projects are focused on exposure-response relationships during early life and a central theme throughout this dissertation relates to the intersection of date, time and age in longitudinal cohort studies. Finally, the third aim seeks to integrate findings from Projects I and II and is focused on investigating whether telomere dynamics can be used as a biological indictor of stress in epidemiological research examining associations between low-level environmental chemical exposures and neurodevelopmental endpoints. Methods: Both projects were conducted using data and samples collected as part of the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health (CCCEH) Mothers and Newborns study. In Project I, PBDEs were measured by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) in plasma samples collected repeatedly between birth and age 9 years. We examined determinants of 1) prenatal exposure to PBDEs (Chapter 2), and 2 [...]
doi:10.7916/d80k3gg3 fatcat:sxf46cv3ffb2tnn6qq7dotvjse