Oswego Children's Study receives $800K grant

Four years of federal funding totaling $800,000 will help a SUNY Oswego team of researchers to continue its study of how exposure to environmental pollutants before birth influences behavior as children mature toward adulthood.

The four-year grant from the Center for Disease Control’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry will support a study that began in 1990 monitoring newborns who had prenatal exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

Dr. Paul Stewart, Dr. Jacqueline Reihman and Dr. Edward Lonky of Oswego’s psychology department will now follow their subjects from the age of about 15 to 18, through September 2011, and they will look at the effects of two additional pollutants—mercury and lead—both alone and combined with each other and PCBs.

Stewart directs the Oswego Children’s Study at SUNY Oswego’s Center for Neurobehavioral Effects of Environmental Toxins in Mahar Hall. “Jim Pagano (of the college’s chemistry department) did the PCB analysis for much of our study,” he added.

The team’s past work has shown that prenatal PCB exposure is associated with impaired impulse control. New data indicate that mercury and lead may produce the same effects and that exposure to all three toxicants has a cumulative effect, Stewart said. In the next four years of the study, the researchers will aim to confirm these findings.

They will also look for “real-world” effects of exposure to these substances, he said, including juvenile delinquency, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and impaired scholastic achievement.

The team will talk about the long-term study and the data it has amassed during College Hour on Nov. 13. Their presentation is scheduled for 12:45 p.m. in Room 214 of Mahar Hall.

The Oswego study is extraordinary for its length and comprehensiveness, examining many variables beyond exposure to environmental toxicants, including geographic, sociological, economic and other factors.

“This work has brought national and international acclaim to our department and our institution,” said Dr. Karen Wolford, psychology department chair, noting that the team has published and presented its work nationally and internationally over the years.

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(Posted: Oct 31, 2007)