Early environmental quality and life-course mental health effects: The Equal-Life project

Irene van Kamp*, Kerstin Persson Waye, Katja Kanninen, John Gulliver, Alessandro Bozzon, Achilleas Psyllidis, Hendriek Boshuizen, Jenny Selander, Peter van den Hazel, Marco Brambilla, Maria Foraster, Jordi Julvez, Maria Klatte, Sonja Jeram, Peter Lercher, Dick Botteldooren, Gordana Ristovska, Jaakko Kaprio, Dirk Schreckenberg, Maarten HornikxJanina Fels, Miriam Weber, Ella Braat-Eggen, Julia Hartmann, Charlotte Clark, Tanja Vrijkotte, Lex Brown, Gabriele Bolte

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Background: There is increasing evidence that a complex interplay of factors within environments in which children grows up, contributes to children's suboptimal mental health and cognitive development. The concept of the life-course exposome helps to study the impact of the physical and social environment, including social inequities, on cognitive development and mental health over time. Methods: Equal-Life develops and tests combined exposures and their effects on children's mental health and cognitive development. Data from eight birth-cohorts and three school studies (N = 240.000) linked to exposure data, will provide insights and policy guidance into aspects of physical and social exposures hitherto untapped, at different scale levels and timeframes, while accounting for social inequities. Reasoning from the outcome point of view, relevant stakeholders participate in the formulation and validation of research questions, and in the formulation of environmental hazards. Exposure assessment combines GIS-based environmental indicators with omics approaches and new data sources, forming the early-life exposome. Statistical tools integrate data at different spatial and temporal granularity and combine exploratory machine learning models with hypothesis-driven causal modeling. Conclusions: Equal-Life contributes to the development and utilization of the exposome concept by (1) integrating the internal, physical and social exposomes, (2) studying a distinct set of life-course effects on a child's development and mental health (3) characterizing the child's environment at different developmental stages and in different activity spaces, (4) looking at supportive environments for child development, rather than merely pollutants, and (5) combining physical, social indicators with novel effect markers and using new data sources describing child activity patterns and environments.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-10
    Number of pages10
    JournalEnvironmental Epidemiology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2022


    • Environmental Conditions
    • Mental health
    • cognition
    • children
    • adolescents
    • epidemiology

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Epidemiology
    • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
    • Global and Planetary Change
    • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
    • Pollution


    Dive into the research topics of 'Early environmental quality and life-course mental health effects: The Equal-Life project'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this