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The Role of Environmental and Pharmaceutical Exposure on Fetal Programming and Pre-Term Birth

The New York Academy of Sciences and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center to host multi-day conference at the Academy’s headquarters in New York City.

Published May 31, 2012

NEW YORK, May 31, 2012—On June 11-12, 2012, the New York Academy of Sciences and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center will present a multi-day conference on Fetal Programming and Environmental Exposures: Implications for Prenatal Care and Pre-Term Birth. The conference comes on the heels of the May 2012 "Born Too Soon" global action report on pre-term birth, a joint effort of almost 50 international, national, and regional organizations led by the March of Dimes, The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health, Save the Children, and the World Health Organization. This report shows that addressing pre-term birth can lead to a rapid and significant reduction in child deaths-an important Millennium Development Goal.
In response to increased evidence over the past two decades showing that prenatal environmental and pharmaceutical exposures can adversely influence fetal programming, the Academy and Cincinnati Children's have put together a timely scientific symposium. The forum will explore recent discoveries, challenges, and future research directions that further our understanding of the complex environmental and genetic factors, as well as gene-gene and gene-environment interactions, responsible for fetal programming in utero and pre-term birth.
"Individual health rests on the complexities of maternal-fetal interactions that occur during pregnancy. The genetic, environmental, and biological factors that adversely affect fetal development and the length of pregnancy have life-long consequences for families and society," said Jeffrey Whitsett, MD, co-director of the Perinatal Institute at Cincinnati Children's and chief of the Section of Neonatology, Perinatal and Pulmonary Biology. "The conference seeks to elucidate and understand the factors contributing to optimal fetal growth and development and those related to premature births that represent major causes of infant mortality and morbidity worldwide."

Experts with diverse perspectives will engage in a dialogue about possible ways in which we can better predict, assess, and decrease the effects of environmental and genetic factors on fetal outcomes and pre-term birth, thus lowering the enormous associated physical, psychological, and economic costs.

"This symposium provides an innovative look at mechanisms that lead to adverse pregnancy outcomes such as preterm birth," said Louis Muglia, MD, PhD, director of the Center for Preterm Birth and co-director of the Perinatal Institute at Cincinnati Children's. "I anticipate that participants will identify exciting new targets to investigate in their own basic or clinical research studies, and appreciate the breadth of recent scientific discovery that can be applied to these critical areas of maternal and child health".

The symposium will provide a neutral forum for discussion among multidisciplinary science investigators such as toxicologists, obstetricians, neonatologists, pediatricians, endocrinologists, epidemiologists, and public health and regulatory experts from basic research and clinical settings. Conference attendees will explore the impact of genetic, epigenetic, and environmental factors on the stages of prenatal development, including pre-implantation, implantation, decidualization, placentation, fetal programming in utero, and links to pre-term birth and other pregnancy disorders.

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About Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center is one of eight children's hospitals named to the Honor Roll in U.S. News and World Report's 2010-11 Best Children's Hospitals. It is ranked #1 for digestive disorders and highly ranked for its expertise in pulmonology, cancer, neonatology, heart and heart surgery, neurology and neurosurgery, diabetes and endocrinology, orthopedics, kidney disorders and urology. Cincinnati Children's is one of the top two recipients of pediatric research grants from the National Institutes of Health. It is internationally recognized for quality and transformation work by Leapfrog, The Joint Commission, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and by hospitals and health organizations it works with globally. Additional information can be found at

About the New York Academy of Sciences
The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization that since 1817 has been committed to advancing science, technology, and society worldwide. With 25,000 members in 140 countries, the Academy is creating a global community of science for the benefit of humanity. The Academy's core mission is to advance scientific knowledge, positively impact the major global challenges of society with science-based solutions, and increase the number of scientifically informed individuals in society at large. Please visit us online at