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Pediatric Specialty Unit receives award for expansion

In November, the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) awarded the Southeast Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU) $284,000. 

“We are thrilled to have this opportunity to expand on our current community relationships and to develop new ones as we work toward meeting the environmental health needs of communities, health providers, and researchers,” stated Project Director, Abby Mutic PhD, CNM.  

Dr. Abby Mutic directs the Southeast PEHSU, is an Assistant Professor in Research at the Emory University Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, and a Certified Nurse Midwife. Her research focuses on occupational and environmental exposures among reproductive-aged persons and young children. In her SE PEHSU director role, Mutic engages and collaborates with Maternal Child Health agencies, educators, healthcare providers, and public health advocates to identify and reduce environmental exposures for reproductive families, enhance environmental health literacy, and promote environmental justice. 

This new funding will help the unit to: 

Component 1 (COVID/Environmental Justice (EJ): Build capacity among health professionals and environmental justice (EJ)/disadvantaged communities to address children's environmental health risks associated with COVID-19. 

Component 2 (Per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances PFAS): Develop educational materials on PFAS for health care professionals in practice and training to increase awareness of potential health impacts of PFAS. At the same time, growing providers' capacity to provide risk mitigation guidance to patients and improved clinical care of environmentally exposed individuals. 

The Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units (PEHSUs) have 10 locations across the US regions. The PEHSUs were created to provide education and consulting for health professionals and family members about environmental health. PEHSU aims to improve children's health in the region, inform families, communities, and healthcare providers of environmental hazards, and educate and train. The organization provides health education, clinical pediatric environmental health services, education materials, research efforts, and technical assistance to agencies and healthcare providers. SE PEHSU (region 4) serves Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee. 

“This unique funding allows us to focus programmatic activities toward high-risk communities in our region whose environmental health situations have deteriorated as a result of COVID-19,” she said.  

Mutic isn’t alone with her work on this project. Drs. Melissa Halliday Gittinger, DO, FACMT, Rebecca Pass Philipsborn, MD, MPA, Leslie Isadore Rubin, MD, Victoria Green, MD, JD, Henry Falk, MD, Mr. Nathan Mutic MS, MAT, MEd and Wayne Garfinkel all contribute to its success.