Maternal-Infant Research on Environmental Chemicals (MIREC) Study Research Platform
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The MIREC study is a pan-Canadian, multi-year, research study led by Health Canada. The study was designed to produce new knowledge on Canadians' exposure to environmental chemicals and address data gaps on vulnerable populations in Canada including infants, children and pregnant individuals.
The original MIREC study has been expanded into the MIREC Research Platform. The platform includes the original study, a number of follow-up studies and a Biobank containing data and biological samples collected as part of these studies. The studies and subsequent Biobank projects examine chemical exposures and related health effects at various life stages including fetal development, infancy, childhood, adolescence, pregnancy and perimenopause.
The MIREC Research Platform is a major resource in the field of prenatal exposure to environmental chemicals due to:
- follow-up studies in MIREC families
- extensive health history, lifestyle, and sociodemographic data
- comprehensive dataset on biomarkers of exposure and disease
- availability of biological samples for use in future research
Findings from MIREC researchers are published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
The MIREC study recruited approximately 2,000 participants in their first trimester of pregnancy from 10 cities across Canada. Scientists at Health Canada, with their academic and clinical research colleagues, have followed some of these participants and their children for over 10 years and assessed key health outcomes throughout this time.
An overview of the MIREC cohort was published in 2013 in the journal Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology (27(4):415-25).
The MIREC Research Platform collects biological samples from participants. These have included samples of urine, blood, milk, hair, umbilical cord blood, infant's first stool (meconium), teeth, and saliva.
The MIREC Research Platform collects information from participants using questionnaires. They have answered questions about:
- sociodemographic factors
- health history
- environmental exposures
The MIREC Research Platform has measured a number of environmental chemicals in the biological samples collected.
The following table provides examples of the environmental chemicals that have been a part of the MIREC Research Platform.
|Metals||Arsenic, cadmium, lead, manganese, mercury|
|Pesticides||Glyphosate, organophosphate and organochlorine pesticides, pyrethroids|
|Flame retardants||Organophosphate flame retardants, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)|
|Self-care and consumer products||Bisphenol A (BPA), bisphenol analogues, triclosan|
|Other industrial chemicals||Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), solvents (NMP, NEP)|
The MIREC Research Platform has assessed key health outcomes at various life stages including:
- pregnancy: gestational diabetes, hypertension, preterm birth
- postpartum: cardiometabolic health
- infancy: physical development, sensory function and behavior
- early childhood: physical and neurodevelopment
- adolescence: timing of puberty, metabolic health
Questionnaire data, biological samples and the data related to them are coded and safely stored in a Biobank. These data can be used to answer future research questions related to environmental chemical exposures and health effects at vulnerable life stages.
The Biobank resides at Sainte-Justine University Hospital's Research Centre in Montreal.
Information about the Biobank including an overview of completed and ongoing projects, the application form, and copies of policies is available online.
The MIREC Research Platform is a collaborative effort among:
- Health Canada scientists
- clinical and academic researchers
- Sainte-Justine University Hospital's Research Centre in Montreal
The research centre at Sainte-Justine University Hospital is the coordinating centre for the study. Labs at the Centre de toxicologie du Québec and Health Canada lead the analysis of biological samples.
- Jillian Ashley-Martin, Ph.D., Epidemiologist and Research Scientist, Health Canada, Ottawa
- Maryse Bouchard, Ph.D., Professor of Environmental Health, University of Montreal School of Public Health and CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre, Montreal
- Linda Booij, Ph.D., Psychologist and Professor, Concordia University; Researcher, CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre, Montreal
Health Canada's Role
The MIREC Research Platform is a key part of meeting the goals of Canada's Chemicals Management Plan. This plan is a major step forward in reducing the impact of environmental chemicals on human health and the environment.
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