Around the world, the rates of childhood disease are increasing. For example, childhood asthma rates have nearly tripled over the past three decades. Neurodevelopment disorders – including autism and ADHD – now affect 10-15% of the four million babies born in the U.S. each year. Girls are reaching puberty at younger ages, putting them at greater risk for lifelong breast cancer. Childhood cancer has become the leading cause of death of children under the age of 15.
What is causing these diseases to increase so rapidly? There is strong evidence that links toxic exposures in our environment to increases in childhood disease. These toxins are found in our foods, our cosmetics, our electronics, and other everyday products. We know that children are uniquely vulnerable to their effects. When toxic exposures occur in the womb or during early childhood, even low levels can produce harmful effects. And with over 80,000 new chemicals entering our environment – less than 20% which have been tested – there is a pressing need to discover how these chemicals impact our children’s health.
The Mount Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center (CEHC) is dedicated to discovering the environmental causes of childhood disease. Under the leadership of renowned pediatrician and epidemiologist Philip J. Landrigan, MD, MSc, the Center supports ambitious research projects and trains the next generation of leaders in children’s environmental health. Our team uses the same evidence-based framework that has guided Dr. Landrigan’s past successes, ultimately building the foundation for new policies that protect our children from environmental threats.