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Epidemiological investigation of infant health and environmental exposures

Stacy, Shaina L. (2015) Epidemiological investigation of infant health and environmental exposures. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The impact of “place” on health is a classical and key element of epidemiology. Recent advances in geographic information systems have facilitated the use of spatial methods to investigate public health issues. Such approaches are particularly helpful when a public health phenomenon is relatively new and adequate environmental exposure information is lacking. The overarching objective of the present epidemiological investigation is to use spatial methods to explore relationships between several infant and children’s health outcomes and potential environmental exposures. The public health significance of this work is to identify possible sources of harmful exposures that may motivate further research, primary prevention efforts, and eventually policies to further limit exposures in these sensitive populations. It is well known that the embryo/fetus is particularly sensitive to the effects of environmental agents. Early life exposures are of public health significance since they may harm infant health and also have further adverse consequences in childhood and adulthood. The present work encompasses two relatively new but growing areas of interest related to fetal, infant, and children’s health: 1) unconventional natural gas development and adverse birth outcomes, and 2) sources of air toxics and childhood autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Geographic information systems are used to spatially link health outcomes, including birth weight, small for gestational age, preterm birth, and ASD, with nearby sources or with aggregated (e.g., census tract-level) estimates of exposure. Logistic regression is conducted to determine associations between risk for each of the above health effects and the exposures of interest, adjusting for other sociodemographic and personal risk factors. Overall, results indicate that environmental factors have a small but important role to play in the health of infants and children, even after accounting for other potentially confounding factors. Since spatial surrogates for exposure are the primary focus of this investigation, future work will benefit from improved individual exposure assessment and a prospective study design to confirm and further explain these associations.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Stacy, Shaina L.sls157@pitt.eduSLS157
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee MemberArena, Vincent C.arena@pitt.eduARENA
Committee MemberBarchowsky, Aaronaab20@pitt.eduAAB20
Committee MemberBrink, Luann
Committee ChairPitt, Bruce Rbrucep@pitt.eduBRUCEP
Thesis AdvisorTalbott, Evelyn O.eot1@pitt.eduEOT1
Date: 29 June 2015
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 17 April 2015
Approval Date: 29 June 2015
Submission Date: 3 April 2015
Access Restriction: 3 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 3 years.
Number of Pages: 131
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Environmental and Occupational Health
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: infant health, epidemiology, public health, environmental health, geographic information systems, autism spectrum disorder, unconventional natural gas development
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2015 16:16
Last Modified: 01 May 2018 05:15


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