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Environmental impact on children's growth under study

SHANGHAI scientists will begin a large-scale research on the relationship between the environment and children's health, the first such in China, by tracking 5,000 local couples, their fetus and their children until they reach adult age.

It will be a long-term project to analyze how the environment influence the growth of children by studying their biological samples like blood, DNA, hair and nail. This will help scientists to measure such factors as nutrition, stress, nicotine, pesticide, drinking water and indoor air quality.

"We want to study environmental harms to children's nerve system, reproduction system and inner secretion," said Dr Yan Chonghai of Xinhua Hospital, who is the leading scientist.

"We have applied to the local health bureau to include the research into their new three-year plan for government funding."

He said the project could cost over 100 million yuan (US$15.15 million) and the primary investment will be at least 20 to 30 million yuan.

"It is a very meaningful research," Yan said. "The spectrum of children's diseases is changing rapidly in the past 30 years, from nutritional disease and infection to a big increase of tumor, congenital deformity, hyperactivity disease and autism," Yan said. "Since the genetic factor doesn't alter so much in 30 years, the environment must have played an extremely important role. The key is to identify the environmental factors and study how to prevent and control them."


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