Early Life Stress and the Environmental Origins of Disease: A Population-Based Prospective Longitudinal Study of Children in Rural Poverty (ECHO)

This project leverages and builds upon an existing longitudinal cohort to propose hypotheses that investigate the ways in which early life stress alters well-specified developmental processes to adversely affect neurodevelopment in childhood and increase risk for obesity. We describe a currently active, ongoing, population-based prospective longitudinal study known as the Family Life Project (FLP). The FLP includes N=1292 children and their primary, and when available, secondary caregivers, followed from birth and oversampled for poverty and African American ethnicity in predominantly low-income, non-urban counties in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. A primary focus of the FLP in all phases of data collection has been the prospective investigation of associations between early life stress and neurodevelopment in the areas of executive function, emotion regulation, the control of attention, school readiness, and early school progress, including ADHD and LD.

This project extends our prior data collection both retrospectively and prospectively in order to amplify and enhance our focus on adverse exposures and health outcomes in the areas of neurodevelopment and obesity. In the retrospective phase of our research (Y1-Y2) we will collect information on chemical exposures in the sample and on community level risk factors and test hypotheses concerning the unique and interactive effects of these aspects of risk on child outcomes over and above risk attributable to early life stress associated with home and family factors. In the prospective phase of the research (Y3-Y7), we will see children twice at ages 16 and 18 years and collect biological and behavioral data to test hypotheses about the effects of early as well as later life stress on continuity and change in our primary outcomes.

FPG Project Staff:
Lynne Vernon-Feagans, Principal Investigator
Patricia T. Garrett-Peters, Co-Principal Investigator
Margaret R. Burchinal, Senior Research Scientist
Allison C. De Marco, Advanced Research Scientist
Alison V. Quade, Project Director
Heather Walker, Project Administrator
Funding Agency: New York University
Funding Period: 09/21/2016 - 08/31/2018
Award Amount: $796,640