Current Projects Past Projects Collaborators Findings Publications Information for Researchers


Pregnancy and Infant Health

The CHDS began as a study of the factors that influenced the healthy progress of pregnancy and infant development. This research resulted in hundreds of scientific publications. Here are highlights of this research and some ways it has been used by health professionals:

  • Helped set standards for which blood pressure changes could be considered healthy during pregnancy so physicians could identify women who need special care
  • Discovered one of the first clues that smoking causes changes in the placenta, affecting the growth and development of the fetus
  • Developed standards based on birth weight and length of pregnancy to identify which babies were at highest risk of early death and disability, providing doctors better information about which children needed special care
  • Identified which drugs are safe for pregnant women and their babies
  • Contributed information about which infants were at risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, helping to identify which children need monitoring

Child, Adolescent, and Adult Health of CHDS Offspring

Through follow-up studies with families when CHDS children were between the ages of 5-7, 9-11, and as adolescents, the CHDS has learned more about possible links between experiences in early life, even before birth, and health in childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. Highlights of CHDS research in this area:
  • Examined whether convulsions that occur commonly during high fevers in childhood needed to be treated, helping to avoid unnecessary medications
  • Provided information to physicians about normal gains in weight and height for children, giving them better information about when a child might need special tests to identify growth and development problems
  • Identified risk factors for adolescent smoking to help campaigns to prevent smoking in teens
  • Showed that schizophrenia, a serious mental disorder that begins in adolescence or young adulthood, may be caused by events that occur before birth.
  • Contributed research to the growing field of environmental exposures by showing that exposure to some pesticides during the mother's pregnancy could alter the daughter's ability to become pregnant in adulthood and the son's risk of testicular cancer. Read more...

Health of CHDS Parents

As the CHDS parents have aged, our studies have examined how events in young adulthood affect health in mid-life and old age. Areas of focus include breast and prostate cancers and heart disease. Studies with CHDS parents have:

  • Revealed protective factors of pregnancy on breast health, such as placental hormones and special proteins that are present only during pregnancy
  • Identified hormonal and other biological markers in blood to help physicians assess prostate cancer risk
  • Provided valuable information about the lasting consequences of exposure to pesticides like DDT on cancer risk and the health and development of offspring
  • Discovered that women with preeclampsia during pregnancy have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, particularly if the preeclampsia occurs early in the pregnancy. This finding identifies a new high-risk group to target for heart disease screening and intervention.

See our complete list of publications.