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.
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.
Pregnancy Related Anxiety
Experiences of Discrimination
Adverse Childhood Experience
Local pollution sites
|Age of home
Environmental tobacco smoke
| Newborn Growth
850K Methylation Array
DNA Methylation to HPA-axis genes:
Weight, length, head percentiles
See our Publications page for recent AIMS findings or Contact Us for more information.