Comprehensive study: We know little about environmental effects on kids

An unprecedented effort to compile everything the medical and scientific community knows about how children differ from adults in terms of their biologic vulnerability to environmental agents such as lead, mercury, pesticides, and smoke makes clear how little is known about how environmental factors affect children.

The 200-page supplement, sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency, is the most comprehensive, authoritative publication ever produced regarding ways that environmental factors affect children's health. Scheduled for an April 5 release, it is an exhaustive research effort involving contributions from more than 40 leading pediatric experts, each of whom wrote about how environmental agents and toxins affect children.

Michael Weitzman, M.D., executive director of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Center for Child Health Research at the University of Rochester Medical Center, led the effort with co-editor Robert Brent, M.D., Ph.D., D.Sc., of Thomas Jefferson College in Philadelphia. Brent contributed several papers to the effort, including "Environmental Causes of Human Congenital Malformations" and "The Pediatrician's Role and Responsibility in Educating Parents about Environmental Risks."

"The most significant finding from this research is that we now realize how very little we know about how environmental factors affect children, and that is a major concern," says Weitzman, an internationally recognized expert on childhood exposure to lead and smoking. "For instance, we know far more about the effects of prescription drugs on children versus adults than we know about how environmental factors impact children as opposed to adults."

"People are just starting to address the environmental contaminants that are present, says Gary Myers, M.D., a pediatric neurologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center who was co-author of a supplement paper titled "Mercury exposure and childhood developmental outcomes." "T

Contact: Travis Anderson
University of Rochester Medical Center

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