Maternal-Infant Research on Environmental Chemicals (MIREC) Study Research Platform

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Overview

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.

Cohort Profile

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).

Sample Collection

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.

Questionnaire Data

The MIREC Research Platform collects information from participants using questionnaires. They have answered questions about:

  • diet
  • work
  • lifestyle
  • sociodemographic factors
  • health history
  • puberty
  • environmental exposures

Environmental Chemicals

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.

Category Environmental Chemicals
Metals Arsenic, cadmium, lead, manganese, mercury
Pesticides Glyphosate, organophosphate and organochlorine pesticides, pyrethroids
Flame retardants Organophosphate flame retardants, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)
Plasticizers Phthalates (DEHP)
Self-care and consumer products Bisphenol A (BPA), bisphenol analogues, triclosan
Surfactants Perfluoroalkyl substances
Other industrial chemicals Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), solvents (NMP, NEP)

Health Effects

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

Biobank

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.

Investigators

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 Qu├ębec and Health Canada lead the analysis of biological samples.

Co-principal Investigators

  • 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.

For more information

Additional information about the MIREC Research Platform can be found on the mirec-canada.ca website.

Additional information about the Government of Canada's human biomonitoring activities can be found on the Human Biomonitoring of Environmental Chemicals section of canada.ca.

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