A framework for assessing the impact of chemical exposures on neurodevelopment in ECHO: Opportunities and challenges

Susan L. Schantz, Brenda Eskenazi, Jessie P. Buckley, Joseph M. Braun, Jenna N. Sprowles, Deborah H. Bennett, Jose Cordero, Jean A. Frazier, Johnnye Lewis, Irva Hertz-Picciotto, Kristen Lyall, Sara S. Nozadi, Sharon Sagiv, Anne Marie Stroustrup, Heather E. Volk, Deborah J. Watkins

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program is a research initiative funded by the National Institutes of Health that capitalizes on existing cohort studies to investigate the impact of early life environmental factors on child health and development from infancy through adolescence. In the initial stage of the program, extant data from 70 existing cohort studies are being uploaded to a database that will be publicly available to researchers. This new database will represent an unprecedented opportunity for researchers to combine data across existing cohorts to address associations between prenatal chemical exposures and child neurodevelopment. Data elements collected by ECHO cohorts were determined via a series of surveys administered by the ECHO Data Analysis Center. The most common chemical classes quantified in multiple cohorts include organophosphate pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, environmental phenols (including bisphenol A), phthalates, and metals. For each of these chemicals, at least four ECHO cohorts also collected behavioral data during infancy/early childhood using the Child Behavior Checklist. For these chemicals and this neurodevelopmental assessment (as an example), existing data from multiple ECHO cohorts could be pooled to address research questions requiring larger sample sizes than previously available. In addition to summarizing the data that will be available, the article also describes some of the challenges inherent in combining existing data across cohorts, as well as the gaps that could be filled by the additional data collection in the ECHO Program going forward.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109709
JournalEnvironmental research
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • Childhood
  • ECHO
  • Infancy
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Prenatal chemical exposure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)


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