Independent and joint effects of neighborhood-level environmental and socioeconomic exposures on body mass index in early childhood: The environmental influences on child health outcomes (ECHO) cohort

program collaborators for Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Past studies support the hypothesis that the prenatal period influences childhood growth. However, few studies explore the joint effects of exposures that occur simultaneously during pregnancy. To explore the feasibility of using mixtures methods with neighborhood-level environmental exposures, we assessed the effects of multiple prenatal exposures on body mass index (BMI) from birth to age 24 months. We used data from two cohorts: Healthy Start (n = 977) and Maternal and Developmental Risks from Environmental and Social Stressors (MADRES; n = 303). BMI was measured at delivery and 6, 12, and 24 months and standardized as z-scores. We included variables for air pollutants, built and natural environments, food access, and neighborhood socioeconomic status (SES). We used two complementary statistical approaches: single-exposure linear regression and quantile-based g-computation. Models were fit separately for each cohort and time point and were adjusted for relevant covariates. Single-exposure models identified negative associations between NO2 and distance to parks and positive associations between low neighborhood SES and BMI z-scores for Healthy Start participants; for MADRES participants, we observed negative associations between O3 and distance to parks and BMI z-scores. G-computations models produced comparable results for each cohort: higher exposures were generally associated with lower BMI, although results were not significant. Results from the g-computation models, which do not require a priori knowledge of the direction of associations, indicated that the direction of associations between mixture components and BMI varied by cohort and time point. Our study highlights challenges in assessing mixtures effects at the neighborhood level and in harmonizing exposure data across cohorts. For example, geospatial data of neighborhood-level exposures may not fully capture the qualities that might influence health behavior. Studies aiming to harmonize geospatial data from different geographical regions should consider contextual factors when operationalizing exposure variables.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number119109
JournalEnvironmental Research
Volume253
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 15 2024

Keywords

  • Air pollutants
  • Body mass index
  • Built environment
  • Children's health
  • Mixtures
  • Social determinants of health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Biochemistry

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