In its June issue, the scientific journal Environmental Health Perspectives published a news article on the Human Early Life Exposome (HELIX) project, a European project seeking to characterize children’s exposomes as they progress through early life, and relate it to subsequent health outcomes. The exposome is the sum of environmental factors people are exposed to ranging from chemical exposures to lifestyle choices. The HELIX project is a European collaboration of 13 research institutions. It follows 32 000 mother-child pairs from existing birth cohorts in Spain, France, the United Kingdom, Norway, Greece and Lithuania through early life and analyses exposure’s impacts on growth, development and health of the children. The project will integrate external exposure measures of food, water, air pollution, pesticides, noise and ultraviolet (UV) radiation with molecular markers. Further, the project will employ an app measuring participants’ activity levels. The investigators will then estimate the burden of childhood disease. Martin Vrijheid of the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona, Spain states that “Characterization of the exposome in early life can provide very effective tools for disease prevention, given that interventions at that time can reshape biological programming and shift the body’s developmental track to normal function”.


Carol Potera (2014). “The HELIX project.” Environmental Health Perspectives 122, 6, A169.