Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 1155-1168

First online:

Environmental Risks and Children’s Health: What can PRAMS Tell Us?

  • Katrina Smith KorfmacherAffiliated withDepartment of Environmental Medicine, Environmental Health Sciences Center, University of Rochester Email author 
  • , Barbara J. SuterAffiliated withDepartment of Public Health Sciences, University of Rochester
  • , Xueya CaiAffiliated withDepartment of Biostatistics and Computational Biology, University of Rochester
  • , Susan A. BrownsonAffiliated withThe College at Brockport, State University of New York
  • , Ann M. DozierAffiliated withDepartment of Public Health Sciences, University of Rochester

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Environmental exposures during pregnancy have a lasting impact on children’s health. We combined environmental and maternal risk factor survey data to inform efforts to protect children’s health. We made recommendations for future use of such data. A modified version of the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) mail survey was conducted based on weighted sampling design with low-income and non-low income women in Monroe County, NY (1,022 respondents). A series of environmental questions were included in the questionnaire. Data were analyzed using Chi square tests and Poisson loglinear regression model to identify patterns in environmental health risk and sociodemographic characteristics. We identified women who rented their homes, had lower incomes, and lived in inner city zip codes as “high environmental health risk” (HEHR). HEHR respondents were more likely to report that a health care provider talked with them about lead and on average reported more behaviors to protect their children from lead poisoning. Combining environmental and perinatal risk factor data could yield important recommendations for medical practice, health education, and policy development. However, at present PRAMS gathers only limited and inconsistent environmental data. We found that existing PRAMS environmental questions are insufficient. Further work is needed to develop updated and more comprehensive environmental health survey questions and implement them consistently across the country.


Environmental health PRAMS Maternal risk factors Perintal health