Mohawk Culture, Behavior, Toxicant Exposure and Health

Conditions:Cognitive Studies, Endocrine
Therapuetic Areas:Endocrinology, Psychiatry / Psychology
Age Range:17 - 18

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This study will determine the pathways between Mohawk cultural identification and specific
behaviors related to pollutant exposure, and determine the effects of these factors and the
pollutant exposure on physiologically and socially significant outcomes.

Considerable concern now exists over possible effects on human physical and psychological
development of endocrine disrupting environmental contaminants such as polychlorinated
biphenyls (PCBs). Native American communities are particularly at risk owing to subsistence
systems and a cultural ethos involving greater contact with the physical environment. The
proposed study follows-up 220 Mohawk adolescents aged 17-21 years, who participated in a
previous study when they were 10-16 years old. All adolescents are members of the Mohawk
Nation at Akwesasne which is located on the St. Lawrence River and is adjacent to hazardous
waste sites where PCBs have contaminated the local ecology. The investigation examines the
interrelationship between Mohawk cultural identity, traditional Mohawk customs, behaviors
related to toxicant exposure and current toxicant burden. Serum level of PCBs will be
assessed by congener specific analysis. The study will determine the relationship of
congeners and their hydroxylated metabolites to thyroid function (levels of
triiodothyronine, free triiodothyronine, thyroxine, free thyroxine, thyrotropin and
anti-thyroid antibodies), and 2) psychosocial outcomes including school behavior and
performance, hyperactivity, and adaptation to the community. Data gathered for the past
study will be employed to assess variation in metabolism of PCBs, as well as how earlier
measures of cognition and hyperactivity relate to 17 year old psychosocial outcomes.
Variation in susceptibility to PCB effects will be determined by examining the effects of
concurrent toxicant exposure (hexachlorobenzene, Mirex, dichlorodiphenyldichloroethene,
lead), diet, and indicators of PCB metabolism, on the focal measures of adult functioning.
The proposed study will clarify the causal pathways between culturally identifying behavior,
PCB exposure and body burden, thyroid functioning, cognitive functioning, social behavior
and school functioning while identifying activities that are important to maintain cultural
identify and unrelated to exposure.

Participation in previous study of Mohawk adolescent well-being is required for
participation in this project.
We found this trial at
Akwesasne, New York 13655
Akwesasne, NY
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