WHAT IS THE ENVIRONMENT?
For many people, "the environment" conjures
up images of polluted air and water, hazardous waste sites and toxic spills.
From the perspective of the developing fetus, however, the environment includes everything
the mother may come into contact with during pregnancy. For this reason, our studies look at
a wide range of risk factors and exposures in
both the mother and father.
Among the areas studied by the California Birth Defects Monitoring Program are:
TIMING AND PATHWAY
Because most structural development of the
fetus occurs during early pregnancy, our studies usually focus on the "periconceptional" periodthe month before and first 3 months
Studies must validate biologically plausible pathways of exposurein other words, ways the mother could have been exposed. Proximity is
not enough. If a pregnant woman lives near a source of environmental concern, for example,
we also consider whether she could have inhaled, ingested or otherwise been exposed to harmful conditions.