What is a Predisposition to Health Risks?

Genetics, quality of health care, the environment affecting women during pregnancy as well as a woman's behavior while pregnant can work in unison to predispose a child to certain health risks. Smoking cigarettes during pregnancy, for example, has been linked to low birth weight. Lower weight at birth, in turn, may increase inflammatory processes in adulthood, which are associated with chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes according to a 2009 study at the University of Manchester, England.



Community Outreach and Engagement Core (COEC)

Core Director: Jeanne B. Hewitt, PhD RN

The Community Outreach and Engagement Core (COEC) focuses on helping people understand the environment and how it affects children's health. Through various initiatives, we engage our intended audiences:

  • K-12 students (Milwaukee area);
  • nurses and physicians, locally to globally; and
  • the Milwaukee community

Listening to the community's concerns about the environment, and to the extent possible, working with community partners to better understand the environmental public health problems and address the root causes.

For example, we are working with a number of community partners to address 'noise' on Milwaukee's near north side in the Lisbon Avenue neighborhood. Noise as an environmental public health issue was brought to our attention by a local business owner. Key partners in this initiative are youth at Our Next Generation (ONG), bio-engineer and community noise specialist, Mr. Gonzalo Sanchez (President of Sanchez Industrial Design, Inc., Middleton WI), and Center senior scientist, Dr. Daniel Weber.  The COEC team facilitates this initiative, which includes the youth's preparation for a forthcoming community forum that the engaged students and youth will hold (with our assistance).

The Core works to accurately translate Center-generated environmental health science, i.e. bench and human health [epidemiology], to inform communities about the relationship between the environment and disease in children. Reciprocally, the Core works to bring environmental health concerns of the community to the attention of Center researchers to encourage collaborative projects to improve the public's health.

Initiatives focus on building environmental health competency of educators and health professionals in relation to children's environmental health; expanding the ethnic communities that COEC reaches (particularly Latino, Native American, and African American communities), in order to stimulate environmental health literacy related to children among these groups; and, collaborating with the Integrative Health Sciences Facility Core to support public health research and career development. 

For more information about the Community Outreach and Engagement Core, contact Dr. Jeanne Hewitt at (414) 229-5463 or jbhewitt@uwm.edu.