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Your Environment. Your Health.

Prenatal Exposure to PBDEs Associated with Later Attention Problems

Frederica Perera, Ph.D., Dr. P.H., Virginia Rauh, Sc.D., Whitney J. Cowell
Columbia University
NIEHS Grants P30ES009089, P01ES009600, R01ES008977, T32ES007322

NIEHS grantees report that prenatal exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) used as flame retardants are associated with attention problems in children 3 to 7 years old. This is one of the first studies to examine prenatal PBDE exposure effects on both preschool and school age development.

Researchers followed 210 mother-child pairs from birth through early childhood. This cohort has shown cord plasma PBDE concentrations consistent with exposure levels detected elsewhere in the United Stages. The researchers used cord blood samples to assess prenatal exposure to PBDEs and then assessed child behavior yearly from age 3 to 7 using a standardized rating scale.

The researchers detected four types of PBDE in more than half of the samples, with BDE-47 showing the highest concentrations. After adjusting for factors previously associated with PBDE exposure levels or neurodevelopment in other studies, the researchers observed an association between childhood attention problems and increasing levels of blood plasma concentrations of BDEs 47, 99, 100 and 153 for ages 3,4, and 7. The researchers explain that the behavior instrument used may not effectively capture behavior patterns at ages 5 and 6 years because the test transitions from a preschool to school-aged version at those ages.

Citation: Cowell WJ, Lederman SA, Sjödin A, Jones R, Wang S, Perera FP, Wang R, Rauh VA, Herbstman JB. 2015. Prenatal exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers and child attention problems at 3-7years. Neurotoxicol Teratol pii: S0892-0362(15)30027-1.

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