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Center on the
Early Life Origins of Disease

Research Projects – Boston Birth Cohort

New Grant

Early life determinants of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and other Developmental Disorders (DD) in the Boston birth cohort

This newly awarded MCHB funded study on Developmental Disabilities (DD) and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is a collaboration between Xiaobin Wang (PI) and Dani Fallon Chair of Mental Health and the Director of the Wendy Klag Center for Autism & Developmental Disabilities here at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. Based on the Boston Birth Cohort with over 8,500 mother-baby pairs of predominantly low-income, urban-minority families, this is the largest U.S. prospective birth cohort study on ASD and other DD. The multi-disciplinary team will analyze ASD and other DD status in relation to a broad spectrum of risk and protective factors during critical developmental windows (preconception, in-utero, and early childhood). This study is expected to provide urgently needed data to inform early risk prediction and early prevention for ASD and other DD in US urban low income minority setting.

Enrollment Summary

8,500 mother-infant pairs (~2,500 preterm)


Inner city, minority (65% blacks, 25% Hisp) in Boston


Enrolled at Birth F/U at pediatric primary care visits

Data Collected

  • Prenatal and Perinatal EMR Data
  • Clinical Measurements including Growth and Development at F/U
  • Biospecimens: Maternal and Cord Blood, Placenta Tissue; Venous Blood at F/U
  • Epidemiological Questionnaires

Grants Associated with the Boston Birth Cohort

Preterm Birth
2R01 HD041702 NICHD Genome-wide Association Study of Preterm Birth
R21HD066471 NICHD Epigenome Association Study of Preterm Birth
Respiratory Diseases
K23 HL093023, NHLBI, Role of Prenatal Factors and Gene-Environment Interactions in Recurrent Wheezing
K23 HL093302 NHLBI, Oxidant Stress and Gene Polymorphisms in Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia
Food Allergy
FA093009, U.S. DOD, Genetics, Epigenomics and Food Allergy
R21AI088609, NIAID, Epigenome Association Study of Food Allergy
U01AI090727, NIAID, Post Genome-Wide Association Study of Food Allergy
Developmental Outcomes
R40 MC27443 HRSA A Prospective Birth Cohort Study on Pre- and Peri-natal Determinants of Autism Spectrum Disorders and Developmental Disabilities