UM-CEHC Research Findings

Pregnancy and early life are important windows of time for a developing child and we know that exposures to plastics and metals during these periods can have lasting effects. Understanding how these exposures occur and what the risks are can help inform the decisions we make such as what foods to eat and personal care products to use. This information can also help to develop policies and programs that are needed to protect children's health.

Below are the UM-CEHC's key research findings:

  • Personal care products, lead-glazed ceramics, and seafood are important sources of exposure to chemical plastics, lead, and mercury, respectively.
  • Children born to mothers with higher lead exposure tended to attain less weight and height, from birth to adolescence.
  • Lead exposure in early life was associated with cardiovascular and metabolic health during adolescence– high lead levels correlate with increasing blood pressure, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides in girls and higher fasting glucose in boys. Exposure to plastics, BPA and phthalates, was also associated with metabolic outcomes total and LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, leptin, and glucose.
  • Early life exposure to [endocrine disrupting chemicals] was connected to altered hormone levels in puberty and timing of sexual maturation.
  • Prenatal lead exposure was associated with altered methylation at specific genes in umbilical cord blood leukocyte DNA, and some relationships were sex-specific.
  • A high fat diet modifies the effect of the perinatal bisphenol A (BPA) exposure on the epigenome in our mouse model.
  • A Western high fat diet may induce hepatic oxidation (which is associated with chronic liver disease) and BPA may increase this effect in pregnant female mice.
  • A prenatal high fat diet altered the physical activity and nutrient utilization of female mice into adulthood.
  • Lead exposure modulates epigenetic drift in mice in a locus specific manner.

See our Publications section for a complete list of UM-CEHC publications.