Four pilot projects examining whether regular exposure to bisphenol A and phthalates can affect alter infant and adolescent development, cognition or behavior will be carried out at Illinois and Harvard University. Two of the projects will focus on human subjects, and two will involve rodents.
The cash from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will establish the Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Center at Illinois.
The researchers will follow pregnant women and their babies, measuring BPA and phthalate levels in the urine every month and collecting data on possible sources of exposure. The babies will also undergo physical, behavioral and cognitive tests.
"We're going to see the babies within the first 24 hours of birth and collect a lot of data about their growth and development but also about their cognitive function," said Susan Schantz, a professor of comparative biosciences at Illinois, an environmental toxicologist and the director of the new center.
"These chemicals are endocrine disrupters," she said. "BPA is estrogenic and phthalates are anti-androgenic, so both are expected to disrupt sex hormones in the body."