[Science Daily] Scientists develop blood test to predict environmental harm to children


Scientists at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health have developed a method that uses DNA biomarkers to easily screen pregnant women for harmful environmental pollutants before giving birth such as Air pollution linked to childhood illness and developmental disorders. This approach has the potential to prevent childhood developmental disorders and chronic disease through early identification of at-risk children.

While environmental factors – including air pollutants – have previously been implicated in DNA markers, to date no studies have used DNA markers to mark environmental exposure. in children. The study results were published online in the journal Epigenetics.

There is a lot of scientific evidence linking prenatal environmental exposure to adverse effects in children, but so far there is no early warning system to predict which children are at risk. are most likely to experience adverse health effects. Researchers have taken an important step in overcoming this barrier by identifying an accessible biomarker measured in a small amount of blood to distinguish infants at high risk from exposure. before birth. They used air pollutants as a case study, although they say their approach could easily be generalized to other environmental exposures and could eventually be implemented. appears as a routine test.

The researchers used machine learning analysis of cord blood collected through two New York City longitudinal cohorts to identify sites on DNA that are altered by air pollution. (DNA can be altered through methylation, which can alter gene expression, which can, for example, impact the amount of protein important for development.) Study participants knew levels exposure to air pollution measured through personal and ambient air monitoring during pregnancy, with specific measurements for fine particulate matter (PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and hydrocarbons polycyclic aromaticity (PAH).

They tested these biomarkers and found that they could be used to predict prenatal exposure to NO2 and PM2.5 (monitored throughout pregnancy), although only with modest precision. PAH (tracked only briefly in the third quarter) is less predictable. The researchers now plan to apply their biomarker discovery process using a larger pool of data collected through the ECHO consortium, which could potentially lead to a level of predictability. higher. It is also possible to link these biomarkers to both adverse health exposures and outcomes. With better predictability and lower cost, this method could become a routine test used in hospitals and clinics.

“Using a small sample of cord blood, it is possible to infer prenatal environmental exposure in women who are not clearly measured.” Senior author Julie Herbstman, PhD, director of Columbia’s Center for Child Environmental Health (CCCEH) and professor of Environmental Health Sciences. “While further confirmation is needed, this method could help identify infants at high risk for health problems. With this information, clinicians can increase monitoring of high-risk children to see if problems develop and prescribe interventions if needed.”

Approximately 15% of children in the United States between the ages of 3 and 17 are affected by neurodevelopmental disorders, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning disabilities, intellectual disability, autism. and other developmental delays. The prevalence of childhood asthma in the United States is 8% with the highest prevalence in African-American boys. Environmental exposures are known or suspected to contribute to many childhood disorders and are intrinsically preventable once determined to be harmful. Prenatal air pollution exposure is associated with adverse neurodevelopmental and respiratory outcomes, as well as obesity.

Source of Information: Materials provided by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

References: Ya Wang, Frederica Perera, Jia Guo, Kylie W. Riley, Teresa Durham, Zev Ross, Cande V. Ananth, Andrea Baccarelli, Shuang Wang, Julie B. Herbstman. A methodological pipeline prenatal to generate an epigenetic marker of exposure to air pollution indicators. Epigenetics, 2021; 1 DOI: 10.1080/15592294.2021.1872926

Source: Science Daily

Link: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/02/210217134842.htm

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Author: Ngoc Khanh.

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