A framework for assessing the impact of chemical exposures on neurodevelopment in ECHO: Opportunities and challenges

UMMS Affiliation

Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center; Department of Psychiatry, Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

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Document Type



Chemical Actions and Uses | Environmental Public Health | Maternal and Child Health | Mental and Social Health | Neuroscience and Neurobiology | Pediatrics | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology


The Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program is a research initiative funded by the National Institutes of Health that capitalizes on existing cohort studies to investigate the impact of early life environmental factors on child health and development from infancy through adolescence. In the initial stage of the program, extant data from 70 existing cohort studies are being uploaded to a database that will be publicly available to researchers. This new database will represent an unprecedented opportunity for researchers to combine data across existing cohorts to address associations between prenatal chemical exposures and child neurodevelopment. Data elements collected by ECHO cohorts were determined via a series of surveys administered by the ECHO Data Analysis Center. The most common chemical classes quantified in multiple cohorts include organophosphate pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, environmental phenols (including bisphenol A), phthalates, and metals. For each of these chemicals, at least four ECHO cohorts also collected behavioral data during infancy/early childhood using the Child Behavior Checklist. For these chemicals and this neurodevelopmental assessment (as an example), existing data from multiple ECHO cohorts could be pooled to address research questions requiring larger sample sizes than previously available. In addition to summarizing the data that will be available, the article also describes some of the challenges inherent in combining existing data across cohorts, as well as the gaps that could be filled by the additional data collection in the ECHO Program going forward.


Childhood, ECHO, Infancy, Neurodevelopment, Prenatal chemical exposure

DOI of Published Version



Schantz SL, Eskenazi B, Buckley JP, Braun JM, Sprowles JN, Bennett DH, Cordero J, Frazier JA, Lewis J, Hertz-Picciotto I, Lyall K, Nozadi SS, Sagiv S, Stroustrup A, Volk HE, Watkins DJ; program collaborators for Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes. A framework for assessing the impact of chemical exposures on neurodevelopment in ECHO: Opportunities and challenges. Environ Res. 2020 May 23;188:109709. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2020.109709. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 32526495. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Environmental research

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Link to Article in PubMed

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