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Research looks for links between environment and diseases

SHANGHAI scientists will conduct a big-scale research, the first in the country, to study environmental influence on the growth of fetuses and infants, Xinhua Hospital said yesterday.

The hospital will undertake the project.

A total of 3,000 female volunteers who plan to get pregnant will participate in the first phase of this project, starting later this year. They will be monitored throughout their pregnancy until their children are two years old. The research will then be extended to six years, 12 years and even 20 years.

"We will focus on the relationship between environmental and genetic factors in the growth of their children and in their diseases in adulthood and even old age," said Dr Yan Chonghuai, who leads the research. "Indoor pollution, water and air quality, exposure to pesticides and other chemicals, and pregnant women's mental status will all be studied to find environment influence on a person's entire life."

He said that hypertension, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, infertility and other chronic diseases all have some links with fetal nutrition and development. "We want to collect evidences to support prenatal treatment of some adult diseases," he said.

Yan said about 30 similar projects are being carried out worldwide and local scientists will team up with colleagues in Europe and adopt similar methods to find causes of some rare diseases.


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