Publications by authors named "Carmen Milagros Velez Vega"

4 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Preterm birth and PM in Puerto Rico: evidence from the PROTECT birth cohort.

Environ Health 2021 06 11;20(1):69. Epub 2021 Jun 11.

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Tufts University, Anderson Hall, 200 College Avenue, Medford, MA, 02155, USA.

Background: Preterm birth (PTB, birth before 37 weeks of gestation) has been associated with adverse health outcomes across the lifespan. Evidence on the association between PTB and prenatal exposure to air pollutants is inconsistent, and is especially lacking for ethnic/racial minority populations.

Methods: We obtained data on maternal characteristics and behaviors and PTB and other birth outcomes for women participating in the Puerto Rico Testsite for Exploring Contamination Threats (PROTECT) cohort, who lived in municipalities located along the North Coast of Puerto Rico. We assessed pre-natal PM exposures for each infant based on the nearest US Environmental Protection Agency monitor. We estimated prenatal phthalate exposures as the geometric mean of urinary measurements obtained during pregnancy. We then examined the association between PM and PTB using modified Poisson regression and assessed modification of the association by phthalate exposure levels and sociodemographic factors such as maternal age and infant gender.

Results: Among 1092 singleton births, 9.1% of infants were born preterm and 92.9% of mothers had at least a high school education. Mothers had a mean (standard deviation) age of 26.9 (5.5) years and a median (range) of 2.0 (1.0-8.0) pregnancies. Nearly all women were Hispanic white, black, or mixed race. Median (range) prenatal PM concentrations were 6.0 (3.1-19.8) μ g/m. Median (interquartile range) prenatal phthalate levels were 14.9 (8.9-26.0) and 14.5 (8.4-26.0), respectively, for di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP) and di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP). An interquartile range increase in PM was associated with a 1.2% (95% CI 0.4, 2.1%) higher risk of PTB. There was little difference in PTB risk in strata of infant sex, mother's age, family income, history of adverse birth outcome, parity, and pre-pregnancy body mass index. Pregnancy urinary phthalate metabolite levels did not modify the PM-PTB association.

Conclusion: Among ethnic minority women in Puerto Rico, prenatal PM exposure is associated with a small but significant increase in risk of PTB.
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June 2021

Qualitative Assessment of Environmental Health Risk Perceptions and Community Challenges in a Puerto Rican Community: Change and Continuity in Response to Hurricanes Irma and María.

Behav Med 2020 Jul-Sep;46(3-4):231-244. Epub 2019 Dec 20.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Culebra, a geographically isolated island located 17 miles from the eastern coast of Puerto Rico's main island, suffers from an amalgam of significant environmental health risk and associated social determinants of health that are affecting the community. In 2017, two major Hurricanes (Irma and María) impacted Culebra, resulting in an increase of preexisting environmental health risk. The present study's primary aim was to explore community attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions of environmental health risk, and to describe the social priorities of in relation to these risks and challenges. Semi-structured interview guide and Rapid Qualitative Inquiry (RQI) focused on topics of environmental health risk was followed. Qualitative focus groups and individual interviews were conducted among community members in Culebra before and shortly after Hurricanes Irma and María affected the island. Environmental health factors identified included: presence of mosquitoes, trash disposal, water quality and tourism. Additionally, a strong sentiment of island pride was found potentially generating a sense of community that could facilitate solutions to the existing environmental health challenges. Preexisting environmental health risk magnified after the pass of Hurricanes Irma and María. Sustainable and community engagement approaches are needed to develop strategies that can assist in the mitigation and resolution of the identified environmental health risk and challenges, including factors associated with threats such as disasters and pollution.
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December 2019

International prospective observational cohort study of Zika in infants and pregnancy (ZIP study): study protocol.

BMC Pregnancy Childbirth 2019 Aug 7;19(1):282. Epub 2019 Aug 7.

Maternal-Infant Studies Center (CEMI), San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Background: Until recently, Zika virus (ZIKV) infections were considered mild and self-limiting. Since 2015, they have been associated with an increase in microcephaly and other birth defects in newborns. While this association has been observed in case reports and epidemiological studies, the nature and extent of the relationship between ZIKV and adverse pregnancy and pediatric health outcomes is not well understood. With the unique opportunity to prospectively explore the full spectrum of issues related to ZIKV exposure during pregnancy, we undertook a multi-country, prospective cohort study to evaluate the association between ZIKV and pregnancy, neonatal, and infant outcomes.

Methods: At research sites in ZIKV endemic regions of Brazil (4 sites), Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico (2 sites), and Peru, up to 10,000 pregnant women will be recruited and consented in the first and early second trimesters of pregnancy and then followed through delivery up to 6 weeks post-partum; their infants will be followed until at least 1 year of age. Pregnant women with symptomatic ZIKV infection confirmed by presence of ZIKV RNA and/or IgM for ZIKV will also be enrolled, regardless of gestational age. Participants will be tested monthly for ZIKV infection; additional demographic, physical, laboratory and environmental data will be collected to assess the potential interaction of these variables with ZIKV infection. Delivery outcomes and detailed infant assessments, including physical and neurological outcomes, will be obtained.

Discussion: With the emergence of ZIKV in the Americas and its association with adverse pregnancy outcomes in this region, a much better understanding of the spectrum of clinical outcomes associated with exposure to ZIKV during pregnancy is needed. This cohort study will provide information about maternal, fetal, and infant outcomes related to ZIKV infection, including congenital ZIKV syndrome, and manifestations that are not detectable at birth but may appear during the first year of life. In addition, the flexibility of the study design has provided an opportunity to modify study parameters in real time to provide rigorous research data to answer the most critical questions about the impact of congenital ZIKV exposure.

Trial Registration: NCT02856984 . Registered August 5, 2016. Retrospectively registered.
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August 2019