Friday, May 20, 2016

Prenatal Exposure to Household Chemicals Hurts Kids’ Cognitive and Behavioral Development

Liam Davenport

Exposure to common household chemicals such as those found in nonstick cooking pans, upholstery, carpet pads, and electronics during pregnancy may lead to poorer cognitive and behavioral development during childhood, new research shows.

In an analysis of more than 250 mother-child pairs, maternal exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) was associated with impairments in executive function in children aged 5 and 8 years.

«These findings suggest that concentrations of maternal serum PBDEs and PFASs during pregnancy may be associated with poorer executive function in school-age children,» the investigators, with first author Ann Vuong, DrPH, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Environmental Health at the University of Cincinnati, in Ohio, write.

«Given that the persistence of PBDEs and PFASs has resulted in detectable serum concentrations worldwide, the observed deficits in executive function may have a large impact at the population level,» they add.

Worse Cognition, Executive Function

For the study, the investigators examined data from the prospective birth cohort Health Outcomes and Measures of the Environment Study.

They focused on 256 mother-child pairs, in whom maternal serum PDBE and PFAS levels were measured at 16±3 weeks of gestation. The parent-rated Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF) was administered to the children at ages 5 and 8 years; higher scores indicated greater impairment.

They found that higher concentrations of PBDEs were associated with mothers who were nonwhite, less educated, had lower income, were unmarried or living alone, or who had lower scores on the Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment.
Higher levels of the PFASs perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) were seen in women who were non-Hispanic white, who had higher income, or who were minimally/mildly depressed.

Using linear mixed models and generalized estimations, the team found that 10-fold increases in levels of the PBDE BDE-153 were associated with having poorer behavior regulation.

Increased BDE-153 levels were also associated with an increased likelihood of having a behavior regulation or global executive functioning score of 60 points or higher on the BRIEF (respective odds ratios, 3.92 and 2.34).

In-unit increases in PFOS levels were associated with worse behavior regulation, poorer metacognition, and poorer global executive functioning. No link was found between PFOA levels and executive function.
Environ Res, published online January 28, 2016
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