Initiative / HELIX

The Human Early-Life Exposome

The Human Early-Life Exposome

HELIX logo
Studies 1
The HELIX project is funded to exploit novel tools and methods for characterisation of early-life exposure to a wide range of environmental hazards. These require integration and linkage with data on major child health outcomes, to develop an “Early-Life Exposome” approach. Six prospective birth cohort studies (INMA-Spain, RHEA-Greece, MoBa-Norway, EDEN-France, BiB-UK, KANC-Lithuania) are contributing to HELIX as the only realistic and feasible way to obtain the comprehensive, longitudinal, human data needed to build this early-life exposome. These cohorts have already collected large amounts of data as part of national and EU-funded projects. Results will be integrated with data from European cohorts (>300,000 subjects) and registers, to estimate health impacts at the large European scale. This integration of the chemical, physical and molecular environment during critical early-life periods will lead to major improvements in health risk and impact assessments and thus to improved prevention strategies for vulnerable populations.
Investigators Contacts
  • Dr. Martine Vrijheid
    Instituto de Salud Global de Barcelona (ISGLOBAL)

General Information

Year created
Types of cohorts
  • Population cohort
  • France
  • Greece
  • Lithuania
  • Norway
  • Spain
  • United Kingdom
This project has received funding from the European Union’s 7th Framework Programme
Criteria of cohort's to be included
The selected cohorts were included in the HELIX project because: (a) they could provide substantial existing longitudinal data from early pregnancy through childhood, (b) they could follow-up children at similar ages, (c) they could integrate questionnaires, biosampling and clinical examinations using common HELIX protocols and (d) they offered heterogeneity in terms of exposure and population characteristics.
Health topic
  • Environmental health
  • Birth, infancy and childhood health
Socio-environmental context
  • Air pollution
  • Environmental hazards
  • Short-half-life chemicals
  • Urbanization
  • Other : Endocrine disruptors; lifestyle exposures; chemical exposures; socioeconomic position


Number of participants

With harmonized data

Age range of the samples

Minimum age
Maximum age

Methodology for harmonization and integration

Strategy of harmonization
Data processing methods
  • NA
  • Type of infrastructure
    Some centrally, other locally
    Integrative data analysis
    • NA
  • NA
  • Supplementary information
    Harmonisation has been done for specific analysis. (Diagnostic environment-wide association study (EWAS) analysis, structural equation modelling (SEM), and Bayesian profile regression). More information: Cohort profile: Maitre L, de Bont J, Casas M, et al. Human Early Life Exposome (HELIX) study: a European population-based exposome cohort. BMJ Open. 2018;8(9):e021311. Published 2018 Sep 10. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2017-021311 Database access:

    Number of cohorts

    With harmonized data
    Will more cohorts be harmonized?


    Availability of metadata
    Under request
    Availability of individual data
    Under request

    Individual Studies

    Acronym Name Study design Participants Countries
    KANC The Lithuanian Kaunus Cohort Case-control 646