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Early-life URBAN environmental exposures and childhood multimorbidity: An Exposome-wide approach
Funder: European CommissionProject code: 101109136 Call for proposal: HORIZON-MSCA-2022-PF-01
Funded under: HE | HORIZON-TMA-MSCA-PF-EF Funder Contribution: 172,619 EUR

URBANE addresses an important and timely question: how does the urban environment impact the developmental origins of multimorbidity? Neurodevelopmental, cardiometabolic and respiratory adverse health outcomes are increasingly prevalent at young ages, with diseases such as obesity and asthma affecting up to four out of ten children in Europe. Multimorbidity, the co-occurrence of two or more health conditions, in childhood is thus becoming a major public health problem with short- and long-term consequences. Although it is well known that environmental hazards play a role in the development of diseases, the contribution of the complex environment in which we grow up and live on the development of multimorbidity remains unclear. URBANE addresses this knowledge gap. The project will leverage the resources of the Portuguese population-based birth cohort Generation XXI and follow an exposome-wide approach to the study of urban environmental impact on childhood multimorbidity. For that, the project will use a wide range of geospatial urban exposure data (e.g., air pollution, and characteristics of the urban natural and built environment) and multiple adverse health outcomes (e.g., high blood pressure, obesity, asthma, behavioral problems) collected at the vulnerable early stages of the lifecourse (pregnancy and childhood). The project will explore socioeconomic status and gender differences and also assess whether DNA methylation changes and dysregulation of hormone leptin explain the urban environmental impact on multimorbidity. URBANE will contribute to the discovery of urban environmental priorities, vulnerable subpopulations and aid in the identification of underlying mechanisms. URBANE is highly interdisciplinary, and fosters knowledge exchange. The project aligns with major EU strategies related to the urban environment and non-communicable diseases prevention, and thus its results are expected to be of high relevance for researchers, policy makers, and society.

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