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Brief introduction

With an unprecedented economic development in China in recent years, the whole landscape of the nation is undergoing dramatic changes. Urbanization has been occurring on a massive scale. However, environmental pollution as a side-effect of rapid economic growth is a prominent issue in many parts of the country that may pose a threat to population health. What’s more, China as a developing country continues to be affected by traditional pollutants, such as lead and mercury. Emerging pollutants, e.g., endocrine disrupting chemicals, are now being produced locally in a large quantity and in widespread use in daily life. Evidence shows that human exposure to both old and new pollutants are high in China. 

Of particular concern is how environment contaminants impact vulnerable populations such as pregnant women, fetuses and young children. Early life exposures to a number of environmental pollutants have been linked to reproductive failure, adverse pregnancy outcomes, physical and mental developmental disorders in children, and even adult diseases in the offspring. For example, perfluorinated alkyl substances (PFASs), a group of the environmental endocrine disruptors commonly used in household products, were found to be associated with dyslipidemia, asthma, renal function and younger age at menarche in children. Evidence further showed that the incidences of birth defects, childhood asthma and precocious puberty are rising in China.Equally important is overnutrition in urban settings. Coupled with less physical activities, the prevalence of obesity rises fast, particularly in children. 

Shanghai, one of the largest and most developed cities in China, experienced fast changes in the past 30 years. The prevalence of childhood asthma is the highest in the nation (7.6%). More and more children are diagnosed as having attention deficit and hyperactive disorder (ADHD).The prevalence of combined overweight and obesity was 49.1% for boys and 30.8% for girls aged 8-15-years. Furthermore, the Shanghai residents have higher levels of PFASs than people in other parts of China. Therefore, Shanghai is an interesting and important place to study the effects of early life exposure to environmental and behavioral factors on child health and even adult health, a key aspect of the Developmental Origin of Health and Diseases (DOHaD) theory. 

Research team

The Shanghai Jiao Tong University is the home of the Center for Children’s Environmental Health, which was designated as a Key Laboratory by the Ministry of Education. The Center designed the Shanghai Birth Cohort (SBC) to examine the effects of genetic, environmental and behavioral factors on fecundability, pregnancy outcomes, child growth and development, and risks of diseases. The investigators gathered information from most large birth cohorts around the world, visited several international cohorts and invited world experts to participate in the study design. SBC is a member of the Environment and Child Health International Birth Cohort Group (ECHIBCG) led by the World Health Organization, and the Birth Cohort Consortium of Asia (BiCCA).

Learn more about national birth cohort study in China, here is the link : sci-hub.tw/10.2105/ajph.2016.303484


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