Marie Pedersen

Marie Pedersen

Associate Professor

Primary fields of research

Marie's research focuses on the evaluation of effects of environmental exposures early in life. Currently she is involved in Danish as well as European birth cohort studies that examine the influence of exposure to dietary and environmental toxicants during pregnancy on maternal and child health. 

Marie has a degree in Biology from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark and a PhD at the Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Denmark (2010). Marie did her postdoctoral work at the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology, Barcelona, Spain and in the Team of Environmental Epidemiology Applied to Reproduction and Respiratory Health, National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM), Grenoble, France (2010-2014). Afterwards she worked as researcher at the Danish Cancer Society Research Center, Diet, Genes and Environment, Copenhagen, Denmark (2014-2018). In 2015 Marie started as associate professor at the Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen.


Acrylamide is a chemical formed in many commonly consumed foods and beverages. It is neurotoxic, crosses the placenta and has been associated with restriction of fetal growth in humans. In animals, acrylamide causes heritable mutations, tumors, developmental toxicity, reduced fertility and impaired growth. Therefore, the discovery of acrylamide in food in 2002 raised concern about human health effects worldwide. Still, epidemiological studies are limited and effects on health of prenatal exposure have never been evaluated. Epidemiological studies have mostly addressed exposure during adulthood, focused on cancer risk in adults, and relied on questionnaires entailing a high degree of exposure misclassification. Biomarker studies on prenatal exposure to acrylamide from diet are critically needed to improve exposure assessment and to determine whether acrylamide leads to major diseases later in life.

The aim of CHIPS (Children’s Health in Relation to Intrauterine Exposure to Heat-Generated Pollutants) is to determine the effects of prenatal exposure to acrylamide alone and in combination with other potentially toxic adduct-forming exposures on the health of children and young adults. Both well-established and innovative biomarker methods will be used for characterization of prenatal exposure to acrylamide and related toxicants in blood from pregnant women and their offspring in prospective cohort studies with long-term follow-up. Risk of neurological disorders, impaired cognition, disturbed reproductive function and metabolic outcomes such as obesity and diabetes will be evaluated.

This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 758151).


Air pollution and asthma

Asthma is the most common chronic disease in children. There is growing experimental and epidemiological evidence that exposure to ambient air pollution from combustion such as motor vehicle emissions not only exacerbates existing asthma, but also contributes to the development of asthma. Asthma has a complex multifactorial etiology, which is still not fully understood, as multiple factors starting from fetal life, may interact.

The aim of this research is to examine the individual and joint effects of early-life exposure to air pollution from multiple outdoor and indoor sources on risk of development of asthma in children and adolescents. Furthermore, we seek to determine the mechanistic basis for these effects by studying changes in lung function, inflammation, immunological markers and airway DNA methylation.

Individual health, home, home neighborhood and personal characteristics from national registers will be used for prospective studies of all children and adolescents born in Denmark since 1997 together with detailed questionnaire data from the Danish National Birth Cohort (DNBC) and repeated measurements of lung function and biomarkers from the COPenhagen Prospective Studies on Asthma in Childhood (COPSAC). Early-life exposure to outdoor air pollution to a wide range of air pollutants will be estimated at home addresses with validated and novel prediction models. Register and questionnaire data on asthma incidence from birth to 18 years of age, home characteristics, home neighborhood will be evaluated. Confounding and effect modification by personal characteristics and exposures will be considered.

The research described above is being conducted under contract to the Health Effects Institute (HEI), an organization jointly funded by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (Assistance Award No. CR-83590201) and certain motor vehicle and engine manufacturers. The contents of this research do not necessarily reflect the views of HEI, or its sponsors, nor do they necessarily reflect the views and policies of the EPA or motor vehicle and engine manufacturers.

Current research

  • Environmental epidemiology
  • Effects of environmental exposures early in life on human health
  • Air pollution and noise from road traffic
  • Dietary exposure to carcinogens
  • Biomarkers of genotoxic exposure and effect measured in maternal and umbilical cord blood
  • In utero and early growth (birth weight, rapid growth and child obesity)
  • Preterm birth, preeclampsia, pregnancy-induced hypertension and gestational diabetes
  • Asthma and related respiratory and allergic outcomes in children
  • Cohort studies

National and International Collaboration

  • Department of Environmental Science, Stockholm University, Sweden (
  • Centre for Fetal Programming, Department of Epidemiology Research, Statens Serum Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark (
  • Danish Centre for Environment and Energy, Aarhus University, Roskilde, Denmark (
  • Danish Cancer Society Research Center (DCRC), Copenhagen, Denmark (
  • Danish National Birth Cohort, (
  • Copenhagen Prospective Studies on Asthma in Childhood, (
  • ISGlobal Barcelona Institute for Global Health, Barcelona, Spain (

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