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Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health

SWCOEH NIOSH trainee Jennifer Ish to present abstract at ISEE 2021

Jennifer Ish, MS, a SWCOEH NIOSH trainee in Occupational Epidemiology, will present her abstract at the 33rd Annual Conference of the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology (ISEE 2021), held Aug. 23-26 as a virtual conference, hosted by Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.
Ish’s abstract, “Maternal occupational exposure to chemicals and neurocognitive development at 4-5 years of age”, estimates job-related exposure to chemicals among expecting mothers in Spain and the potential adverse consequences of such exposures on early childhood cognitive function.
Given that chemical exposures during pregnancy may interfere with fetal brain development, researchers hypothesize that such exposures can have lasting consequences for children’s intelligence. However, only a few studies have specifically examined mothers’ work-related exposure to chemicals in relation to the long-term health of their children, a knowledge gap which Ish’s study addresses.
Ish and her co-authors found limited evidence that workplace exposure to chemicals—estimated based on mothers’ longest-held job during pregnancy—was associated with general cognitive abilities in their children at age five. However, they observed statistically significant association between estimated exposure to organic solvents—a common exposure among cleaners and painters, for example–and reduced numeric reasoning abilities, such that children of exposed mothers scored, on average, about 6-points lower on a scale of quantitative function than children of unexposed mothers. The authors emphasize that given important methodological limitations of the study, future work is needed to confirm these findings.
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