Environmental Pediatrics and the Ecological Imperative
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The major diseases confronting children of developed nations today are chronic illnesses of multifactorial origin, reflecting the increasingly urban-industrialized ecosystems in which pre- and post-natal development take place. These include asthma, which has doubled in frequency since 1980; birth defects, which remain the leading cause of infant death; developmental disorders, such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and autism; and childhood leukemia and brain cancer, which have increased in incidence since the 1970s. Genetic factors appear to be responsible for causation of 10%–20% of cases of chronic disease in children, but most of the remainder are thought to result from interactions among multiple genetic and extragenetic factors including diet, lifestyle, and environmental exposures. Evidence is increasing that exposures to toxic chemicals in the environment contribute significantly to causation of chronic disease in children. Children today are at risk of exposure to...
This work was supported by grant P01 ES09584 from the National Institutes of Health; by grant TS256-13 from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry; and by grants from The Pew Charitable Trusts and the New York Community Trust.