The INMA-INfancia y Medio Ambiente-(Environment and Childhood) project: More than 10 years contributing to environmental and neuropsychological research

Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2017 Jun;220(4):647-658. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2017.02.008. Epub 2017 Feb 28.


Background: In 2003 the INMA-INfancia y Medio Ambiente (Environment and Childhood) project, a Spanish national network of birth cohorts including more than 3500 participants, was set up with the aim to assess the health impacts of pre- and postnatal environmental exposures on children. The project has published more than 60 papers on maternal and environmental factors related to neuropsychological development in children, one of the main research interests within the project. With the present review, we evaluate the evidence provided by the INMA project on this topic and discuss how the data can contribute to cover the challenges that children's environmental health research will face in the coming years.

Results: The INMA project has contributed to provide increasing evidence of the association between prenatal exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and child neuropsychological development, but it has also shown, using innovative methodologies, that postnatal exposure to these compounds does not play a role in this association. The project has also contributed to show the detrimental influence of certain air pollutants on child neuropsychological development, as well as how a balanced maternal fish intake can protect from the potential adverse effects of prenatal exposure to mercury. Also, the project has contributed to the understanding of impacts of nutritional factors including supplement intake and vitamin D levels during pregnancy and the role of breastfeeding on the neuropsychological benefits.

Conclusions: INMA findings underscore the importance of continued research on the delineation of the sensitive windows of exposure both during pregnancy and postnatally and on the combined effects of environmental exposures, denoted the exposome. In terms of health policy, INMA findings have important implications for the development of public health policies to advance the health and development of children.

Keywords: Environmental epidemiology; INMA project; Neuropsychological development; Pollutants; Postnatal; Prenatal.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Child
  • Child Development / drug effects*
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Neuropsychology
  • Research


  • Environmental Pollutants