Dr. Pam Factor-Litvak's current research interests concern the biological relationships between environmental exposures and development. She is particularly interested in in utero and early childhood exposures to heavy metals (e.g. lead, mercury), endocrine disrupting compounds (e.g. PCBs, organohalogen pesticides), and developmental and reproductive outcomes in late childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Most of Dr. Factor-Litvak's research utilizes birth cohorts, or groups of individuals born at particular times and in particular places. An example of this work concerns the Yugoslavia Study of Environmental Lead, Pregnancy Outcomes and Child Development, a prospective cohort study of mother-child pairs, tracking the adverse association between lead exposure and IQ. A second cohort study of the National Collaborative Perinatal Project is tracing those adults in the cohort to ascertain specific health outcomes, in particular, if prenatal exposure to endocrine disrupting compounds is associated with persistent neurobehavioral problems and reproductive disorders in males. Dr. Factor-Litvak is also following a newly formed birth cohort in Norway, and exploring early screening and diagnostic instruments for autism and related disorders. She has recently completed two studies initiated due to public concerns, one, a study of the possible associations between mercury derived from dental restorations (silver-mercury fillings) and neuropsychological, neurological and psychiatric symptoms in adults, and second, an ecologic study of the relationships between residential proximity to hazardous waste sites and school district based special education classifications of autism. Dr. Factor-Litvak has served on numerous NIH review committees and on a World Health Organization expert panel on endocrine disrupting chemicals.
Select Urban Health Activities
Follow up of the Columbia Presbyterian National Collaborative Perinatal Project: Pregnant women receiving prenatal care at CUMC were recruited between 1959 and 1964 into a study that followed their children through age 7. Dr. Pam Factor-Litvak and colleagues are currently following a sample of the male offspring to examine whether exposure to environmental agents, in utero, is associated with reproductive and neuropsychiatic functioning.
Select Global Activities
Environmental Lead, Thyroid Function and Child Development, Serbia and Montenegro: As a follow up to a study of environmental lead, pregnancy outcomes, and child development, Dr. Pam Factor-Litvak and colleagues are studying whether the adverse effects of lead on cognition and behavior is mediated via inadequate maternal thyroid functioning while pregnant.
Arsenic and Child Development in Bangladesh, Bangladesh: Dr. Pam Factor-Litvak and colleagues are studying whether arsenic exposure, due to the consumption of arsenic contaminated well water, is associated with neuropsychological outcomes in Bangladesh, an area with a wide range of exposure.