Children may be exposed to a variety of chemicals, both while they are in the womb and after they have been born, through inhalation, ingestion or skin contact. Elfe provides a means of measuring exposure levels for a variety of substances and at the same time monitoring the onset of disorders, particularly those caused by neurotoxins and endocrine disruptors. Estimates of exposure are based on noninvasive biological samples that were taken from the mothers and their newborn infants immediately after birth, and which will continue to be taken from the children at other key stages in their development. Children are also exposed both to natural radiation (e.g. ultraviolet), and to ionizing radiation during medical imaging examinations. Elfe presents an opportunity to assess these different types of exposure and to observe the possible onset of associated pathologies, joining forces with other studies in France or abroad in the case of rare diseases such as cancer. By following the children from birth, it will also be possible to assess their exposure to airborne and waterborne pollutants, and observe the onset of various illnesses such as respiratory disease.
Exposure to environmental pollutants
The Elfe study is allowing us to find out more about children’s exposure to certain chemicals in the home, and to observe the occurrence of associated pathologies such as neurotoxic diseases and endocrine disruptions. Biomarkers of exposure, effects and susceptibility are being developed within the cohort in order to gain a more accurate picture of these pathologies. Children’s skin and lungs are constantly in contact with air, while the many different uses of water result in frequent contact and varied routes of exposure. Accordingly, if either of these elements is polluted with toxic compounds, children’s health can suffer.
Exposure to physical agents
The Elfe study is allowing researchers to assess children’s exposure to different types of radiation, including ultraviolet, radon and medical ionizing radiation, and observe the possible occurrence of associated pathologies.
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Example of research
Researchers are also gathering vital information on the impact of exposure to various pollutants such as lead, pesticides and phthalates (present in many consumer plastics, as well as cosmetics).