Questions for ‘Decades-long project is linking our health to the environment’

multigenerational family

By studying three generations of California families, scientists are gaining valuable clues about the role of the environment on health.

kate_sept2004/iStock/Getty Images Plus

To accompany feature “Decades-long project is linking our health to the environment


Before Reading:

1.  What are two ways that something in the environment around you might be harmful to health? Why might certain things be especially harmful for infants or babies in the womb?

2.  It’s sometimes possible to avoid exposure to certain harmful chemicals. What are two ways that a person might do so?

During Reading:

1.  What is the purpose of the Child Health and Development Studies?

2.  What is unusual about the research?

3.  What have been two important things that scientists have learned through the study?

4.  What does the term cohort mean?

5.  What are three environmental factors that might affect a person’s health?

6.  What are at least two examples the story cites of chemicals in the environment that might harm health?

7.  What is an epidemiologist?

8.  What was the “Hunger Winter” famine, and what have scientists learned by observing the health of babies born during this period?

9.  Besides the Child Health and Development Studies, what are two other well-known cohort studies?

10.  What is one important limitation of observational studies?

After Reading:

1. What do you think might be challenging about running a study that included three generations and followed people’s health for decades?

2.  Imagine that you were designing an observational cohort study to examine the effects of a certain chemical, called “XYZ,” starting with XYZ’s effects on newborn infants. Based on what you’ve learned about the strength and limits of such studies, what are two steps you might take to ensure that your results pointed to “causation” as opposed to just some “correlation”?