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Environmental hazards for children in USA.

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Department of Community Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York 10029, USA.


Children are not little adults. Their tissues and organs are rapidly growing, developing and differentiating. At various stages these growth processes create windows of great vulnerability to environmental toxicants. Children's patterns of consumption and exposure are very different from those of adults. Children's combination of disproportionately heavy exposure plus biologic vulnerability makes them very susceptible to injury caused by toxicants in the environment. Development and adoption of a child-centered agenda for research and risk assessment will be necessary if disease in children of toxic environmental origin is to be controlled, prevented and eventually eradicated. This agenda will need to be multidisciplinary. It should include epidemiology, pediatrics, exposure assessment, toxicology, and health economics. The ultimate goals of this agenda need to be (1) the identification of etiologic associations between environmental exposures and pediatric disease; (2) the elucidation of disease mechanisms; (3) improved treatment; and (4) prevention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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