Potential impact and the main dissemination activities and the exploitation of results
ENRIECO’s main impact is expected in the structuring and consolidation of often fragmented
data from various cohort studies undertaken throughout Europe. This will in itself improve the
knowledge base for FP 7 Cooperation Work Programme 2008: Environment (including climate
change) environment and health linkages. Data regarding environment-health causal
relationships from pregnancy and birth cohorts will be more readily available in a form useful
for policy makers after robust evaluation.
There are many pregnancy and birth cohorts in Europe, with sample sizes ranging from a few
hundred to tens of thousands. A number of them aim to examine environment and health
relationships, but the sample sizes are often too small to lead to conclusive results, or have led
to inconsistent and sometimes opposite results. The project has brought together information
on 36 environmental birth cohorts, encompassing more than 350,000 newborns, infants and
Furthermore, the environmental exposure assessment often is the weakest part in the studies
as a result of lack of funding and expertise. Nevertheless, these cohorts often contain high
quality data in many areas such as outcomes and possible confounders and have a team of
highly experienced researchers working on them with great expertise and commitment. A
number of the cohorts participated in one or more EC funded studies such GA 2 LEN (biological
exposures and asthma and allergy), ESCAPE (air pollution and allergy asthma, infections,
cognitive function and pregnancy outcomes), HIWATE (water contaminants and still birth,
congenital anomalies, birth weight, preterm delivery), INUENDO (POPs and reproductive
health), HITEA (indoor exposures and asthma and allergies) and NEWGENERIS (food
contaminants and genotoxic risks). These provide a great resource to explore environmental
exposure response relationships, but lack at times coordination and funding to make the best
and most efficient use of the available resources. While a number of the cohorts have been
following up children for many years, others have just started with follow up of pregnant
women/foetus and provide an excellent resource for future follow up into childhood to
examine the existence of vulnerable periods during pregnancy and childhood for a range of
environmental pollutants. The exchange of information and experience between the older
and newer cohorts is essential to formulate new hypothesis and use the best methods, tools
and study designs to test these hypothesis. The objective of the ENRIECO coordination project
was to bring together cohorts with environment and health information, share resources,
expertise and experience in this area. Specifically to extract environmental exposure response
relationships, and to evaluate the information. Common databases have been built to explore
environmental exposure response relationships. Potential new uses of the cohorts such as new
exposures and health outcomes have been assessed and included in the recommendations to
strategic research developers.
The main outcome of the project is the availability of environment and health information in
birth cohorts in a centralised location, a database with available environmental exposure-
response functions for various health outcomes that have been rigorously evaluated.
The ENRIECO inventory is the first to make this information publicly available. It is
intended to facilitate collaborations between birth cohort researchers in this field and can be
searched to identify cohorts relevant for comparison and replication studies, or for combined
analyses with pooled or non-pooled data. Moreover, it may be used by policy makers and
other stakeholders to identify birth cohorts that can provide specific information on
environmental exposures or related outcomes. The inventory should form the basis for a long-
term cohort coordination infrastructure.
These include new pooled exposure response relationships for ETS and dampness and allergy
and asthma that has been used to test the methodologies. Working groups within WP2, 3, 4
and 5 have published topical reports indicating currently gaps in environment and health data.
The project has also produced methodology and protocols for evaluation of environmental
exposure assessments, health outcome assessments and environment exposure-response
relationships. These reports provide the available information in a more digestible format for
policy makers, as ENRIECO set out to do.
As many of the highly experienced investigators associated with ENRIECO are involved with
many other national and international health studies, findings are expected to be considered
in appropriate projects. The impact of ENRIECO on scientific performance will hereby depend
on the networking (“viral messaging”) capacity of those involved.
Thus far, ENRIECO has proven to provide a much needed resource for cohort experts in
environmental health. ENRIECO could well form the basis for further coordinated research in
the future, which will strengthen the European research base.