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Martine Vrijheid

Martine Vrijheid is Research Professor at CREAL. She received her graduate degree in Health Sciences and Epidemiology at the University of Nijmegen (NL) in 1993 and her PhD in Epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) in 2000. She worked as lecturer at LSHTM until 2002 and then joined the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as staff-scientist to work on environmental and occupational exposures to ionizing and non-ionizing radiation. She joined CREAL in 2008 where she specialises in the effects of environmental (chemical, physical, and social) exposures on child health and development. She is co-director of the INMA birth cohort study and PI and WP leader of several European collaborative projects in the area of child health (HELIX, CHICOS, Geronimo, ENRIECO, MobiExpo, MeDALL, EUROCAT, Bridge-Health).

  • Research areas

Her research areas, all integrating environment and child health research, include: the exposome, birth cohort coordination, emerging chemical exposures, obesogens, congenital anomalies, and RF-EMF exposures. In the area of chemical exposures and child health, her research in recent years has focused on the effects of “new” exposures (such as bisphenol A, phthalates, and perfluorinated compounds) during pre and postnatal periods on respiratory, cardiovascular, and neuropsychological health and development of children. She leads several projects to investigate the role of different chemical exposures in the development of obesity (obesogens). Further, she has initiated the HELIX (Human Early Life Exposome) EC FP7 project to move towards a more holistic “exposome” approach to studying co-existing exposures and their joint effects on child health. HELIX is developing a comprehensive set of high-tech tools, methods and prospective data to measure and integrate the chemical, physical and molecular environment and link this to health of children. Smart phones are used to measure air pollution, UV radiation, physical activity and noise exposure. The latest laboratory techniques will measure biological indicators of many chemical exposures including contaminants in food, consumer products and water, as well as molecular “omics” markers of biological responses to these exposures. The project will collect full exposome data from 1200 mothers and their children, the largest study to do this. HELIX uses six existing, prospective birth cohort studies.

Further, Martine Vrijheid has been instrumental in the building of a network of birth cohorts in Europe:  She coordinated the EC FP7 project CHICOS which developed an integrated strategy for birth cohort research in Europe and brought together over 35 cohort studies across Europe studying more than 350,000 mother-child pairs. In the FP7-Environment ENRIECO project she led the work package that constructed an inventory of environment and health data in over 35 European cohorts. This inventory is now available as a web-based searchable database ( and is being used extensively by researchers looking to develop new collaborations and joint analyses. The coordination of birth cohorts is being continued under the SANTE funded BRIDGE-HEALTH project where Martine Vrijheid leads birth cohort related tasks in 2 WPs. 


  • Selected Publications


Vrijheid M, Slama R, Robinson O, Chatzi L, Coen M, van den Hazel P, Thomsen C, Wright J, Athersuch TJ, Avellana N, Basagaña X, Brochot C, Bucchini L, Bustamante M, Carracedo A, Casas M, Estivill X, Fairley L, van Gent D, Gonzalez JR, Granum B, Gražulevičienė R, Gutzkow KB, Julvez J, Keun HC, Kogevinas M, McEachan RR, Meltzer HM, Sabidó E, Schwarze PE, Siroux V, Sunyer J, Want EJ, Zeman F, Nieuwenhuijsen MJ. The human early-life exposome (HELIX): project rationale and design. Environ Health Perspect. 2014;122(6):535-44.


Gascon M, Casas M, Morales E, Valvi D, Ballesteros-Gómez A, Luque N, Rubio S, Monfort N, Ventura R, Martínez D, Sunyer J, Vrijheid M. Prenatal exposure to bisphenol A and phthalates and childhood respiratory tract infections and allergy. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2015;135(2):370-378.

Vrijheid M. The exposome: a new paradigm to study the impact of environment on health. Thorax. 2014;69(9):876-8.

Vrijheid M. Child health and the environment: where next with birth cohort research? Occup Environ Med. 2014;71(10):663-4.

Gascon M, Sunyer J, Casas M, Martínez D, Ballester F, Basterrechea M, Bonde JP, Chatzi L, Chevrier C, Eggesbø M, Esplugues A, Govarts E, Hannu K, Ibarluzea J, Kasper-Sonnenberg M, Klümper C, Koppen G, Nieuwenhuijsen MJ, Palkovicova L, Pelé F, Polder A, Schoeters G, Torrent M, Trnovec T, Vassilaki M, Vrijheid M. Prenatal exposure to DDE and PCB 153 and respiratory health in early childhood: a meta-analysis. Epidemiology. 2014;25(4):544-53.

Schembari A, Nieuwenhuijsen MJ, Salvador J, de Nazelle A, Cirach M, Dadvand P, Beelen R, Hoek G, Basagaña X, Vrijheid M. Traffic-related air pollution and congenital anomalies in Barcelona. Environ Health Perspect. 2014;122(3):317-23.

Slama R, Ballester F, Casas M, Cordier S, Eggesbø M, Iniguez C, Nieuwenhuijsen M, Philippat C, Rey S, Vandentorren S, Vrijheid M. Epidemiologic tools to study the influence of environmental factors on fecundity and pregnancy-related outcomes. Epidemiol Rev. 2014;36(1):148-64.

Valvi D, Casas M, Mendez MA, Ballesteros-Gómez A, Luque N, Rubio S, Sunyer J, Vrijheid M. Prenatal bisphenol a urine concentrations and early rapid growth and overweight risk in the offspring. Epidemiology. 2013;24(6):791-9.

Valvi D, Mendez MA, Garcia-Esteban R, Ballester F, Ibarluzea J, Goñi F, Grimalt JO, Llop S, Marina LS, Vizcaino E, Sunyer J, Vrijheid M. Prenatal exposure to persistent organic pollutants and rapid weight gain and overweight in infancy. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2014;22(2):488-96.

Casas M, Chatzi L, Carsin AE, Amiano P, Guxens M, Kogevinas M, Koutra K, Lertxundi N, Murcia M, Rebagliato M, Riaño I, Rodríguez-Bernal CL, RoumeliotakiT, Sunyer J, Mendez M, Vrijheid M. Maternal pre-pregnancy overweight and obesity,and child neuropsychological development: two Southern European birth cohortstudies. Int J Epidemiol. 2013;42(2):506-17.

Vrijheid M, Casas M, Bergström A, Carmichael A, Cordier S, Eggesbø M, Eller E, Fantini MP, Fernández MF, Fernández-Somoano A, Gehring U, Grazuleviciene R, Hohmann C, Karvonen AM, Keil T, Kogevinas M, Koppen G, Krämer U, Kuehni CE, Magnus P, Majewska R, Andersen AM, Patelarou E, Petersen MS, Pierik FH, Polanska K, Porta D, Richiardi L, Santos AC, Slama R, Sram RJ, Thijs C, Tischer C, Toft G, Trnovec T, Vandentorren S, Vrijkotte TG, Wilhelm M, Wright J, Nieuwenhuijsen M. European birth cohorts for environmental health research. Environ Health Perspect. 2012;120(1):29-37.

View publications at PubMed

Martine Vrijheid


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