Strakovsky and Team Awarded $2.1 Million Grant to Study Chemical Effects on Women's Health Post-Pregnancy

September 24, 2020

A team of researchers from Michigan State University and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) led by IIT-affiliated faculty member Rita Strakovsky, has been awarded a five-year, $2.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). They will be studying the long-term effects of phthalate exposure on mothers four to seven years after giving birth.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, phthalates are a class of chemicals that increase the durability and flexibility of many common plastic products, including food packaging materials. Phthalates are also used in personal care products as scent and color stabilizers.

In previous studies, phthalates have been shown to disrupt endocrine system function, which is responsible for the production of hormones that regulate growth, development, metabolism and several other important physiological processes.

The new project will expand on the Illinois Kids Development Study (I-KIDS), a large pregnancy cohort study that began at UIUC in 2014 and evaluates the effects of environmental chemical exposure on children’s development from birth to age 5. Susan Schantz, a professor and environmental neurotoxicologist at UIUC, leads the I-KIDS project.

Strakovsky’s involvement with I-KIDS began while she was a postdoctoral researcher at UIUC before joining MSU. She was previously awarded an NIH grant to investigate phthalate exposure and hormonal disruption in pregnant women who participate in I-KIDS.

“Up to this point, we have been primarily concerned with endocrine disruptors and child development,” Strakovsky said. “We have been focusing on the developmental origins of health and disease, a concept that suggests a person’s health throughout life is heavily influenced by environmental exposures in utero and in early childhood.

“The question we have now is, what about the mother’s health? Estrogen and other reproductive hormones are important for women’s metabolic and cardiovascular health, so our goal is to understand the potential consequences of hormonal disruption.”

Roughly 350 mothers from I-KIDS will be reenrolled for the new project and will meet with researchers four to seven years after giving birth.


Read more of this story by Cameron Rudolph on the MSU CANR website: