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Southern Center on Environmentally-Driven Disparities in Birth Outcomes (SCEDDBO)

Overview

Specific goals of the Center are to: 1) develop and operate an interdisciplinary children's health research center with a focus on understanding how biological, physiological, environmental, and social aspects of vulnerability contribute to health disparities; 2) enhance research in children's health at Duke by promoting research interactions among programs in biomedicine, environmental health, and the social sciences and establishing an infrastructure to support and extend interdisciplinary research; 3) develop new methodologies for incorporating innovative statistical analysis into children's environmental health research and policy practice, with a particular emphasis on genetic and spatial analysis; 4) serve as a technical and educational resource to the local community, region, the nation, and to international agencies in the area of children's health and health disparities; and 5) translate the results of the Center into direct interventions in clinical care and practice.

The Southern Center on Environmentally-Driven Disparities in Birth Outcomes will achieve the central mission and specific goals through the organization of an Administrative Core; three Research Projects (Research Project A: Mapping Disparities in Birth Outcomes; Research Project B: Healthy Pregnancy, Healthy Baby: Studying Racial Disparities in Birth Outcomes; and Research Project C: Perinatal Environmental Exposure Disparity and Neonatal Respiratory Health); one Facility Core (Geographic Information Systems and Statistical Analysis Core); and a Community Outreach and Translation Core. Synergies and complementarities exist across all research projects and cores.

Overlap exists between each pair of research projects, as well as among all three research projects. The Geographic Information Systems and Statistical Analysis and Administrative Cores support all three research projects, and the Community Outreach and Translation Core serves as a bi-directional bridge between the center and all its component parts and the community. The Center is governed through an Administrative Core that includes an Executive Committee and an External Advisory Committee. The Administrative Core provides scientific direction and leadership, coordinates and fosters interactions among research project and facility core investigators, and represents SCEDDBO to the outside community.

SCEDDBO is funded by the US Environmental Protection Agency as part of the Children's Environmental Health Centers program. (EPA grant number R833293). For more information vist the EPA SCEDDBO page: http://epa.gov/ncer/childrenscenters/centers/duke.html. For an overview of the EPA Children's Environmental Health Centers visit: http://es.epa.gov/ncer/childrenscenters/.

Mapping Disparities in Birth Outcomes

Research Project A, "Mapping Disparities in Birth Outcomes" uses a geographically-based nested study design and high-end Geographic Information Systems (GIS) applications in combination with Bayesian spatial hierarchical modeling and other advanced spatial statistical approaches to: (1) spatially link detailed birth record, fetal death certificate, socioeconomic, environmental exposure, tax assessor, community-based, and clinical obstetric data at highly resolved scales for the State of North Carolina from 1990-2003; (2) refine the conception of fetal growth restriction by developing a joint distribution for birthwcight and gestation using bivariate modeling for live births and fetal deaths - both separately and jointly; and (3) determine whether and to what extent differential exposures to both socioeconomic and environmental stressors help explain health disparities in fetal growth restriction among different ethnic and social groups.

Healthy Pregnancy, Healthy Baby: Studying Racial Disparities in Birth Outcomes

Research Project B, "Healthy Pregnancy, Healthy Baby: Studying Racial Disparities in Birth Outcomes" is a cohort study of pregnant women in Durham, NC designed to: (1) correlate birthweight, gestational age, and birthweight x gestational age with individual-level measures of environmental, social, and host factors; (2) partner with local community groups to inventory neighborhood quality and the built environment in order to develop community-level measures of environmental and social factors; (3) create a comprehensive data architecture, spatially resolved at the tax parcel level, of environmental, social, and host factors affecting pregnant women by linking data from the cohort study and neighborhood assessments with additional environmental and socioeconomic data; and (4) determine to what extent differential exposures explain health disparities by applying innovative spatial and genetic statistical methods.

Perinatal Environmental Exposure Disparity and Neonatal Respiratory Health

Research Project C, "Perinatal Environmental Exposure Disparity and Neonatal Respiratory Health" uses an animal model to: (1) determine whether maternal exposure to airborne particulates (PM) and/or ozone restricts fetal growth and/or postnatal growth, and impairs lung development/function in newborn mice; (2) determine whether PM and/or ozone exposure 'reprograms' maternal inflammatory responses; (3) determine whether postnatal ozone exposure further impairs postnatal somatic and lung development/function following maternal PM and/or ozone exposures; and (4) determine whether genetic or developmental susceptibility to airway hyperreactivity exacerbates maternal and/or postnatal exposure effects on postnatal somatic and lung development/function.