The PEHSUs are a national network of experts in health issues that arise from environmental exposures from preconception through adolescence. This new project will develop “PEHSU champions” on environmental contributors to childhood cancer, and enable them to provide support to pediatricians and the public nationwide. It will also train pediatric oncology fellows and nurse practitioners and give them the tools to offer practical guidance on how to prevent exposures to toxic chemicals associated with childhood cancer risk.
With additional knowledge, pediatric healthcare providers could make a positive impact on patients’ health by providing counseling to them on protective personal actions. For example:
- Recommending they avoid common household toxicants, such as pesticides;
- advising they take vitamins and folate in the period before conception and during pregnancy;
- informing families of children undergoing chemotherapy about the increased risk for respiratory illness from particulate air pollution, so that they can make protective choices when air quality is poor.
“When a child is diagnosed with cancer it is traumatic for the child and family” said Dr. Mark Miller, a pediatrician and lead of the project. “As health care providers, we need to be able to hear and respond to family’s concerns about the potential causes of children’s cancers, including risks from environmental exposures. This information can help provide common sense guidance on navigating the hazards in our everyday environment associated with increased risk of childhood cancer.”