Children's Health & the Environment

Exponent toxicologists and epidemiologists have extensive experience addressing children’s health issues such as reproductive and developmental toxicology and epidemiology, developmental neurotoxicology, air pollution and children’s respiratory outcomes, childhood and adolescent cancers, and pediatric drug development. Our experience spans the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, academia, and government. We have participated in projects at the state, national, and international levels and have practical experience in planning, conducting, and coordinating investigative epidemiological studies and regulatory guideline-based nonclinical toxicity studies. This experience includes interpreting study data relative to children’s health and conducting risk assessments for standards-setting and safety assessment.

Nick photoChildren are not merely diminutive adults.  Their smaller size and generally greater rates of absorption dictate that children tend to receive proportionally larger oral and inhalational exposures to toxicants than adults.  Exposure is further exacerbated in toddlers, who spend a considerable amount of time close to the ground (where some contaminants tend to accumulate) and exhibit a high degree of hand-to-mouth activity.  Children’s metabolism also differs from that of adults.  In some cases, children metabolize substances at a faster rate than adults; in others, the enzymes responsible for metabolizing a certain substance may not be fully mature in children.  These differences in metabolic capability can cause reduced or increased potential toxicity, depending on whether the targeted enzymes are responsible for activating or detoxifying the toxicant.  Finally, certain protective mechanisms, such as the blood-brain barrier and immune system, may not be fully developed in the very young.

In addition to the aforementioned factors that affect children’s exposure and susceptibility to toxicants, in utero exposure (i.e., while in the womb) is a pathway specific to children.  A major portion of development occurs while in the womb, and prenatal exposures have the potential to disrupt developmental processes.  Some prenatal exposures result in outcomes that may not be apparent until sometime after birth, even until adulthood.  Consequently, children’s health issues span a wide range, including congenital anomalies, neurodevelopmental conditions such as autism and ADHD, low birth weight, obesity, chronic diseases such as asthma and cancer, as well as adverse effects on the endocrine, reproductive, and immune systems.

Exponent’s Experience and Expertise in Children’s Health

children 74876523Exponent scientists have extensive regulatory experience as senior scientists/directors at the EPA and UK Pesticides Safety Directorate, as members of Science Advisory Panels for the FDA, and as participants on national and international expert committees. We have been involved in developing U.S. and international regulatory guidelines for neurotoxicity, reproductive and developmental toxicity testing and risk assessment, screening assays for endocrine disruptors, cancer risk assessment as it relates to children, and quantitative benchmark dose risk assessment. We have been involved in developing guidelines for conduct of pregnancy registries for drugs and also for advising on the recent guidelines for pregnancy and lactation labeling, which will have a major impact on the type of information provided to patients and health care providers on drug use during pregnancy and lactation.

Using an integrated approach, we advise clients on issues such as safety testing for registration purposes, data and literature analyses of children’s health issues, and product stewardship while paying attention to the implications that their results might have in other parts the world (e.g., classification labeling restrictions; acute reference dose; FQPA factors).