Childhood and Environment

Photo: woodleywonderworks

Children’s health is considered a priority at the international level—and also at ISGlobal. Our Childhood and Environment programme focuses on evaluating the effects of environmental pollutants on children’s health , with particular emphasis on exposure during pregnancy and the postnatal period. The figure below describes the main areas of research interest in this field:



  1. Exposures
    —Urban environment (e.g. air pollution, noise, green spaces, pedestrian areas, temperature, light)
    —Indoor pollution (e.g. air pollution, mould)
    —Water pollution (e.g. chlorination by-products, microplastics)
    —Toxic chemical compounds (e.g. persistent organic pollutants, bisphenol A, phthalates, pesticides, heavy metals)
    —Electromagnetic fields
    —Lifestyle (e.g. nutrition, physical activity, sleep)
    —Social determinants (e.g. restrictions, socio-economic status, education)
  2. Biological responses
    —Metabolomics and proteins
    —Immune system
  3. Health impacts
    —Neurodevelopment and mental health
    —Obesity and cardiometabolic health
    —Respiratory health and allergies
    —Foetal growth and birth outcomes

ISGlobal-Led Birth Cohorts

Within the Childhood and Environment programme, there is a strong focus on longitudinal birth cohort research. We are currently leading a Spanish network of birth cohorts called the INMA Environment and Childhood Project as well as the BiSC birth cohort (in Barcelona and the surrounding metropolitan area).


ISGlobal-Led Birth Cohort Networks

ISGlobal has also been instrumental in building a birth cohort network in Europe through three European projects: ENRIECO, from 2009 to 2011; CHICOS, from 2010 to 2013; and LIFECYCLE, from 2017 to 2021. These efforts have resulted in a framework for data sharing and harmonisation across than 30 European birth cohorts.

Our Team


  • Martine Vrijheid
    Martine Vrijheid Head of the Childhood and Environment Programme, Research Professor

Our Team

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Highlighted Projects


Early-life stressors and LifeCycle health

HERA Project


Integrating Environment and Health Research: a Vision for the EU


Advancing Tools for Human Early Lifecourse Exposome Research and Translation



Pre- and post-natal Maternal mental health and newbOrn neurOdevelopment during the COVID-19 panDemic

OBERON Project


An integrative strategy of testing systems for identification of EDs related to metabolic disorders

Other projects

See Past Projects


Air Pollution, Autism spectrum disorders, and brain imaging in CHildren amongst Europe


A federated FAIR platform enabling large-scale analysis of high-value cohort data connecting Europe and Canada in personalized health


Early Genetics Growth/Early Genetics and Lifecourse Epidemiology