Maternal Cognition Study

Since 1999, the CHAMACOS Study has followed a cohort of primarily Mexican American mothers and children from the Salinas Valley. Historically, our research with this cohort has assessed the impact of environmental exposures on children's health and development. In this new phase of research, the CHAMACOS Maternal Cognition Study, the focus is on the mothers of the cohort.

The overarching objective of this new study is to investigate the degree to which psychosocial adversity and environmental exposures across the lifecourse are associated with women's cognition and brain health at middle age. The rationale for this study is that, compared to non-Latino whites, US Latinos have a higher prevalence[1] and earlier onset[2,3] of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRDs) and face a higher burden of related aging outcomes. The well-established CHAMACOS cohort, with over two decades' worth of data, offers a unique opportunity to investigate some of the driving factors behind these patterns. 

Our overall goal is to inform early ADRDs prevention efforts among US Latinos -- the most rapidly growing aging minority group in the US.

Study at a Glance

  • Study Objectives: 
    • To quantify the associations between early and mid-life social adversity and cognitive performance and the extent to which these associations are explained by cardiometabolic and inflammatory mechanisms.
    • To estimate associations between agricultural pesticide exposure and cognitive performance and to evaluate whether social adversity and pesticide exposure interact to produce poorer cognitive outcomes.
    • To evaluate relationships between lifecourse social adversity, pesticide exposure, and brain biomarkers.

  • Geographic Area: Salinas Valley, CA
  • Participants: Around 550 currently participating CHAMACOS mothers
  • Study Tools: Biological (blood, urine) samples, neurocognitive tests, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), anthropometric data, questionnaire data
  • Community Partners: Clínica de Salud del Valle de Salinas

  • Principal Investigator: Dr. Jacqueline Torres

  • Co-Investigators: Dr. Julianna Deardorff, Dr. Marcella Warner, Dr. Brenda Eskenazi, Dr. Robert Gunier, Dr. William Jagust, Dr. Henry González, Dr. Isabel Elaine Allen

  • Funders: National Institutes on Aging (NIA)
  • Contact: Dr. Jacqueline Torres at  
 Photo Credit: Dario Valenzuela
1.     Chen C, Zissimopoulos JM. Racial and ethnic differences in trends in dementia prevalence and risk factors in the United States. Alzheimers Dement. 2018;4:510-520.
2.     Clark CM, DeCarli C, Mungas D, et al. Earlier onset of Alzheimer disease symptoms in Latino individuals compared with anglo individuals. Arch Neurol. 2005;62(5):774-778.
3.     Fitten LJ, Ortiz F, Fairbanks L, et al. Younger age of dementia diagnosis in a Hispanic population in southern California. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2014;29(6):586-593.