Israel Birth Cohort Consortium (IBCC)
There is a growing awareness of the long-term health effects of intrauterine and early life exposures to environmental pollutants, and their role as contributing factors to the development of illness and disease later in life. Because of the lag that often exists between the time of exposure to environmental pollutants and the emergence of diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity, impaired neuro-cognitive development, diabetes and fertility problems later in life, ecological studies in epidemiology can provide only weak evidence of causality. Birth cohort studies, which examine environmental exposures and health outcomes over time, have become a vital tool in providing stronger evidence of causal relationships. In order to maximize the potential of individual research birth cohorts, cooperation among the various birth cohorts is essential. A prerequisite for cooperation is harmonization of the background questionnaires, procedural standardization in the collection and storage of biological samples, international accreditation of the laboratory analysis of contaminants, and uniformity in the assessment of developmental outcomes. Only under these conditions can there be pooling of data that allows for consolidation and comparison, enhancing the ability to reach much stronger conclusions about early life exposures and subsequent health effects. This evidence can then support policy interventions to reduce the exposures and improve public health.
The Israel Birth Cohort Consortium (IBCC) brings together the existing birth cohorts in Israel to provide the infrastructure and training necessary for cooperation, collection and storage of biological samples, sharing of questionnaire data, and harmonization of developmental follow-up visits, in order to investigate the relationship between chronic illness and environmental exposures in Israel. The IBCC includes a Scientific Advisory Committee of international experts, a Coordinator for the consortium, along with training and enrichment activities for researchers in the field and support for research studies within the consortium.