Epidemiological studies have shown associations between environmental hazards and adverse child health outcomes. The foetus and infant are especially vulnerable to the exposure to environmental risk factors that disrupt the developmental processes. Major environmental hazard such as ambient air pollution, water contaminants, allergens/ biological organisms, environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), noise pollution, pesticides, radiation, toxic wastes, and ultraviolet (UV) light may lead to serious health problems including premature birth, congenital anomalies, low birth weight, respiratory diseases, cancer, learning disabilities, behavioural problems, cancer, and birth defects, and may affect health in later life.
The economic and societal costs associated with children's environmental health disorders are substantial. Many epidemiological studies conducted in Europe have attempted to address these issues. However, generally, the wealth of available information has only been partially exploited, possibly in part because of the lack of statistical power of single studies to study rare health outcomes or exposures with a low prevalence. Therefore, there is an urgent need to evaluate, and where possible combine, the existing exposure response data, methods and tools from European birth cohort studies in order to reveal any causal links between exposing agents and health and to provide recommendations for effective policy decisions to improve children's environmental health and reduce economic and societal costs.