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Reproductive and Child Health

Environmental exposures occurring during the preconception, perinatal, and early life time windows can effect maternal and infant health in the near term as well as later in life. Therefore, Dr. Carignan works with longitudinal preconception and birth cohorts to quantify exposures to environmental agents and determine associations with reproductive, perinatal and child health outcomes.

Notable findings include:

  • Women with higher exposures to organophosphate flame retardants are less likely to become pregnant or have a live birth (Carignan et al. EHP 2017);
  • Infant rice cereal can markedly increase arsenic exposure among US infants relative to breast milk and formula (Carignan et al. 2016);
  • Breastfeeding is protective against infant exposure to arsenic, even when drinking water concentrations are relatively low (Carignan et al. EHP 2015).

PFAS Exposed Communities

Dr. Carignan works with an interdisciplinary team of scientists to provide technical support for communities exposed to drinking water contaminated with perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and serves as a scientific adviser for ATSDR’s Community Assistance Panel for Pease Tradeport in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

She recently co-authored a study reporting that drinking water supplies for 6 million U.S. residents have exceeded US EPA’s lifetime health advisory of 70 ng/L for PFOS and PFOA.





 The Gymnast Study

Dr. Carignan discovered that competitive gymnasts can have high exposures to flame retardants due to the use of these chemicals in the foam of gymnastics training equipment, particularly the foam pit (Carignan et al. 2013, 2016). A former gymnast herself, Dr. Carignan founded the Gymnast Flame Retardant Collaborative to engage with the gymnastics community and has assembled an interdisciplinary research team to work on this issue.