English and Romanian Adoptees Study

The ERA study was established in the early 1990s by Professor Sir Michael Rutter at King`s College London, and is currently led by Professor Edmund Sonuga-Barke, King`s College London. Robert Kumsta has been part of the ERA team since 2007. The ERA study is concerned with the developmental trajectories of children who spent their first years in life in extremely depriving Romanian institutions and were then adopted by families in the UK. It is the largest and most comprehensive developmental study of this cohort of children. It has been assessed at ages 4, 6, 11, 15, and 23 years, and has provided seminal insights into the effect of early global deprivation. The latest follow-up of the study has been completed recently, and included detailed clinical phenotyping, structural and functional brain imaging, and the study of gene-environment interaction and epigenetics.

PIs: Edmund Sonuga-Barke (King's College London), Robert Kumsta (Ruhr-Universität Bochum), Jana Kreppner (University of Southampton), Wolff Schlotz (MPI Frankfurt)

Selected publications:

Developmental consequences of prenatal exposure to endocrine disruptor chemicals - An investigation of epigenetic mechanisms in the Bochum/ Duisburg Birth Cohort Study on child development

The Bochum/Duisburg cohort study is a prospective-longitudinal birth cohort study which was initiated in 1999 when one ton of dioxinated dust leaked from a recycling firm in the south of Duisburg. More than 200 women and their children have been followed up (at age 12 months, 18 months, 24 months and annually since the age 6-7 years) to investigate the long-term effects of environmental pollutants on child development, including cognitive development, attentional performance, social cognition and child psychiatric disorders. In 2010 the cohort was enlarged by about 350 mother–child pairs from Bochum. In the next follow-up phase (starting 2017), we will address the question whether pre- and postnatal exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) leads to changes in DNA methylation, and  whether the effects of exposure to EDCs on developmental outcomes are mediated via epigenetic modifications.

PIs: Robert Kumsta, Axel Schölmerich (Ruhr-Universität Bochum)
Collaborators: Jörn Walter (Universität des Saarlandes), Jan Hengstler (IfaDo), Michael Wilhelm (Ruhr-Universität Bochum)
Funding: DFG