For Researchers

Background

AIMS is motivated by the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) framework, which links prenatal exposure to chemicals, psychosocial stress, diet and other lifestyle factors, to altered fetal growth and, via in utero programming, to health risk over the life course. Moreover, a wide range of prenatal exposures can result in epigenetic alterations, which functionally regulate gene expression and thus phenotype.  This study brings together DOHaD theory, epigenetic mechanisms, and social and environmental epidemiologic methods to understand how prenatal toxicant and psychosocial exposures patterned according to race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status can become biologically embedded and contribute to disparities in health for the next generation.  We are particularly interested in epigenetic alterations to hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis genes as potential linking mechanisms between prenatal exposures and infant outcomes.

Design

AIMS is a prospective observational study. We will enroll a cohort of 300 pregnant women receiving prenatal care at Albany Medical Center. At the prenatal enrollment visit, participants complete a set of questionnaires relating to psychosocial stress, resiliency factors, the indoor environment, and health information. Maternal toenail samples are also collected at this time and will be assayed for metals concentrations. Geocoded residential proximity to air pollution sources during pregnancy are also derived.  At the baby’s birth, a sample of umbilical cord blood is collected and stored for epigenetic assay. An 850k methylation array is planned.  Mother and child medical records are abstracted for information on birth size outcomes and pregnancy covariates.  Data collection is ongoing. Below is a list of the core AIMS data elements. 

Exposure Measures

Social/Psychosocial
 Metals
Outdoor Environment
Indoor Environment
Perceived Stress
Pregnancy Related Anxiety
Depression
Experiences of Discrimination

Adverse Childhood Experience
Social Support
Emotion Regulation
Poverty
Residential instability
Immigrant status

 Arsenic
 Mercury
 Lead
 Manganese

 Cadmium
 Zinc
 

 

 

Proximity to:
 Highways
 Major roadways
 Local pollution sites

 Greenspace

 

 

 

Age of home
Noise
Mold
Pests
Chemical/Product Use
Environmental tobacco smoke

Ventilation

 

 

Outcome Measures

Epigenetics
 Newborn Growth

850K Methylation Array
DNA Methylation to HPA-axis genes:
   NR3C1
HSD11B2
LEP
HTR2A
SLC6A4
FKBP5
BDNF

Birth weight
Gestational Age
SGA/LGA
Head circumference
Length
Weight, length, head percentiles

Ponderal index

 


See our Publications page for recent AIMS findings or Contact Us for more information.