Children's health and the environment: an overview

Mt Sinai J Med. Jan-Feb 2011;78(1):1-10. doi: 10.1002/msj.20236.


Environmental pediatrics, the branch of pediatric medicine that studies the influence of the environment on children's health, has in the past decade grown exponentially. Rising rates of pediatric chronic disease and growing recognition of children's extensive exposures and great vulnerabilities to toxic hazards in the environment have catalyzed this expansion. New scientific initiatives have resulted. They include 14 Centers for Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research supported by the US National Institutes of Health and the US Environmental Protection Agency; a global network of Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units supported by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry; new postdoctoral training programs in pediatric environmental medicine; and the National Children's Study, the largest prospective epidemiological study of children's health ever undertaken in the United States, which launched in 2009 and will follow 100,000 children from conception to age 21 to assess environmental influences on health and development. These research initiatives have delineated the exquisite vulnerability of fetuses, infants, and children to toxic hazards in the environment. They have led to discovery of new environmental causes of disease and disability in children. This issue of The Mount Sinai Journal of Medicine focuses on children's health and the environment. We have brought together thought leaders in children's environmental health to critically examine new research findings, to explore new opportunities for translating research to treatment and prevention, and to offer a vision for the future of this rapidly expanding field.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Welfare*
  • Environmental Health*
  • Humans