Chapter 1. Intersection of poverty, race and child health in the time of COVID-19: 16th annual break the cycle of children’s environmental health disparities program and student projects


I. Leslie Rubin1-5,*, MD, Abby Mutic3,4,8, APRN, PhD, Claire D Coles3,11,12, PhD, Victoria Green3,7, JD MD, Rebecca Philipsborn2,3, MD, MPA, Melissa Gittinger3,6, DO, Nathan Mutic3,4,8, Wayne Garfinkel3,10, BSCE, Henry Falk3, MD, MPH, Benjamin A Gitterman9, MD, and Joav Merrick13-17, MD, MMedSci, DMSc
1Department of Pediatrics, Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia
2Department of Pediatrics, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia
3Southeast Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia
4Break the Cycle of Health Disparities, Inc. Atlanta, Georgia
5The Rubin Center for Autism and Developmental Pediatrics, Atlanta, Georgia
6Georgia Poison Center, Grady Health System, Atlanta, Georgia
7Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia
8Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia
9Departments of Pediatrics and Public Health, George Washington University Schools of Medicine and Public Health and Health Services, General and Community Pediatrics, Children’s National Medical Center, Washington DC
10Retired EPA Region 4 Children’s Environmental Health Coordinator, Atlanta, Georgia,
11MotherToBaby, Atlanta, Georgia
12Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Pediatrics, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, United States
13National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Jerusalem, Israel
14Office of the Medical Director, Health Services, Division for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services, Jerusalem, Israel
15Division of Pediatrics, Hadassah Hebrew University Medical Center, Mt Scopus Campus, Jerusalem, Israel
16Kentucky Children’s Hospital, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, Kentucky
17Center for Human Development, School of Public Health, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America

Part of the book: Environmental Health: Poverty, Race and Child Health in the Time of COVID-19

Chapter DOI:


Break the Cycle of Children’s Environmental Health Disparities (Break the Cycle) is an annual collaborative interdisciplinary research and training program involving university students in academic tracks focusing on the impact of adverse social, economic, and environmental factors on children’s health, development, education, and prospects for their future. The target populations are communities where there is a substantial measure of poverty associated with social, ethnic, racial, and political marginalization, an increased likelihood of environmental exposures, and environmental injustice with high risks for adverse impacts on children’s health and well-being. Participating students are required to develop projects that focus on preventing or reducing adverse environmental factors or their impact on children’s health and promote positive practices to improve the future outcome for children who live in these communities. Student projects cover a wide range of adverse social and environmental factors and their associated intergenerational health implications across the lifespan, and propose solutions at an individual, family, community, and societal level, with the potential for a positive outcome. At the end of the project period, participating students are required to present the results of their work at a national conference and then write a manuscript for publication. The chapters in this book represent the work of students who participated in the 16th Annual Break the Cycle program 2020-2021. The phrase Break the Cycle in this context uses the ecological construct of the cycle of environmental health disparities and offers a framework for tackling health disparities and promoting health equity among children who are vulnerable as a consequence of adverse social, economic, environmental and political factors.


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