News and research findings from across the ECHO Program

A Message From Matt

Matthew Gillman, MD, SM
Director of the ECHO Program

Welcome to the March 2024 edition of the ECHO Connector! ECHO has already produced several exciting publications so far this year, many of which have amassed media attention. The year is off to a great start for the ECHO Program. In this edition, we focus on the ways ECHO investigators are conducting important research on how maternal health, exposures, and habits influence child health. Learn about two recent research articles, one of which reports on ECHO Cohort studies of chemical exposure and the other on the benefits of early breastfeeding, in the News You Can Use section below.

In our last issue, we highlighted the public availability of de-identified ECHO data and new NIH funding opportunities for the intervention research arm of ECHO. Both are important to the future success of the ECHO Program. Here are more details:

  • De-identified data from the ECHO Cohort are available to any qualified researcher through the Eunice Kennedy ShriverNational Institute for Child Health and Development (NICHD) Data and Specimen Hub (DASH). This resource, containing data from over 60,000 ECHO Cohort participants, allows members of the broad scientific community to answer important research questions about the origins of child health outcomes. Learn more about this data set and how to request access.
  • The ECHO Program Office recently announced two Notices of Funding Opportunity (NOFOs) for a third 5-year cycle of the ECHO Institutional Development Award (IDeA) States Pediatric Clinical Trials Network (ISPCTN). We also recently posted Frequently Asked Questions and prerecorded webinars regarding these opportunities. We welcome applications from entities/institutions in IDeA-eligible states to participate in the ECHO ISPCTN as either a Clinical Site or the Data Coordinating and Operations Center (DCOC). These awards will support state-of-the-art pediatric clinical trials in states with historically low rates of NIH funding. Applications are due April 15; please spread the word!

I’m glad the word is getting out about ECHO results, the fruits of efforts of hundreds of researchers and tens of thousands of participants. On behalf of the entire ECHO Program, I thank you for partnering with us to disseminate our research, which is enhancing the health of children for generations to come.

ECHO Research Spotlight

ECHO Cohort Study Finds Link Between Phthalate Exposure and Preterm Birth, Estimates Potential Costs

Collaborative ECHO research led by Leonardo Trasande, MD, MPP of NYU Langone Health investigates the potential connections between phthalates, their metabolites in the urine of pregnant individuals, and birth outcomes. This research, titled “Prenatal phthalate exposure and adverse birth outcomes in the USA: a prospective analysis of births and estimates of attributable burden and costs,” is published in The Lancet Planetary Health.

“The number of premature births in the U.S. that could be linked to phthalate exposure in 2018 was between 24,000 and 120,000, potentially costing between $1.6 billion and $8.1 billion in medical expenses over the lifetime of the children,” Dr. Trasande said.

Read full spotlight here

News You Can Use

New ECHO Cohort Research Highlights Gaps in Literature Studying Role of Fathers in Child Development

Collaborative ECHO Cohort research led by Elena Jansen, PhD of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine; and Kristine Marceau, PhD of the College of Health and Human Sciences at Purdue University reviewed existing literature on what is known about a father’s role in child development, highlighting how a father’s history and personal characteristics can influence their child’s health and well-being.

Their research article, titled “The Role of Fathers in Child Development from Preconception to Postnatal Influences: Opportunities for the National Institutes of Health Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program,” was published in Developmental Psychobiology.

Read the full summary

ECHO Cohort Study Finds Flame-Retardant Chemicals May Increase Risk of Preterm Birth, Higher Birth Weight

Pregnant individuals exposed to specific classes of flame-retardant chemicals known as organophosphate esters (OPEs) may face an increased risk of preterm birth, especially for baby girls, or higher birth weights for girls and boys, according to a recently published ECHO Cohort study.

Deborah Bennett, PhD, of the University of California, Davis led this collaborative research published in Environmental Health Perspectives.

Read summary here

Early Breastfeeding Linked to Lower Risk of Childhood Obesity, Regardless of Mother’s Weight, ECHO Cohort Study Finds

Consistently breastfeeding infants in any amount during their first three months was associated with a lower risk of childhood obesity, regardless of the mother’s body mass index (BMI) before pregnancy, according to a new ECHO Cohort study.

Gayle Shipp, PhD, RDN of Michigan State University led this collaborative research published in Pediatrics.

Read summary here

Register Now for NICHD-NIMH Workshop

Impact of Technology and Digital Media on Child and Adolescent Development and Mental Health: April 4-5, 2024

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) are convening a hybrid workshop titled, “Impact of Technology and Digital Media on Child and Adolescent Development and Mental Health,” on April 4 and 5, 2024 at the Neuroscience Center in Rockville, MD, as well as webcast live for remote attendees. Sessions will address cognitive development, physical and health behaviors, socioemotional development and mental health, diversity and inclusion, conceptual and measurement issues, and the identification of knowledge gaps and future directions. Register

Join Us for April ECHO Discovery!

April 10, 2024 at 1 pm ET – Register here

Penn-CHOP ECHO: Applying causal inference methods to address pressing questions in environmental children’s health

Sunni Mumford, PhD, Professor of Epidemiology and Ob/Gyn Deputy Director of the Division of Epidemiology, Co-Director of the Women’s Health Clinical Research Center at the University of Pennsylvania

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