The Maternal and Infant Environmental Health Riskscape (MIEHR) Research Center

Baylor College of Medicine has received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to fund a new Maternal and Infant Environmental Health Riskscape (MIEHR) Research Center. Baylor will receive $7.1 million over five years and is one of only three sites in the country selected as a Center of Excellence for environmental health disparities research by the National Institute on Minority and Health Disparities. The goal of this new center is to identify key drivers of racial disparities in pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm birth and hypertensive disorders during pregnancy.

The center will study chemical and non-chemical exposures at the individual and neighborhood level from the biological, physical and social environments – collectively referred to as the riskscape – that affect maternal and infant health. Communities of color experience a riskscape burdened not only by social stressors but also by chemical exposures, in part because their neighborhoods are often located closer to industrial and hazardous waste sites.

“There’s a 50 percent higher risk for preterm birth among Black women than among non-Hispanic white women, but the reason for that disparity is not clear,” said Dr. Elaine Symanski, principal investigator of the center and professor in the Center for Precision Environmental Health at Baylor. “Trying to tease out whether the impact of chemical and non-chemical stressors is different between these two groups is critically important if we are to improve birth outcomes for mothers and their babies.”

Read the full BCM press release: