Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and Environment (CHARGE)
Co-Investigator: Assistant Research Professor Cheryl Walker, M.D.
Research funding: National Institute of Health, R01 ES015359
The CHARGE (Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and Environment) study is an epidemiologic study of the environmental and genetic causes of autism now in its tenth year. With over 1,000 families participating, it is the central feature of the UC Davis CCEH, and is funded by the NIEHS and U.S. EPA, with considerable matching funds from the MIND (Medical Investigations of Neurodevelopmental Disorders) Institute at UC Davis. This project is the first large, population-based case-control investigation of underlying causes for autism. The study includes three groups: children with autism, children with developmental delay but not autism, and children selected at random from the general population. The goal of the CHARGE Study is to determine the etiologic contribution from environmental exposures; immunologic and genetic susceptibility factors; medical conditions during pregnancy; and the interplay of genes with environment, operating either directly on neurodevelopment, or indirectly via dysregulation of the immune system.