Prenatal Exposure to a Mixture of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and Child Reading Skills at School Age

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International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health



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Background: Prenatal exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) may affect child neurobehavior; however, exposures to mixtures of POPs have rarely been examined. Methods: We estimated associations of prenatal serum concentrations of 17 POPs, namely 5 polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), 6 polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE), dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), and 4 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), with Wide Range Achievement Test-4 reading composite scores at age 8 years in 161 children from a pregnancy and birth cohort (Health Outcomes and Measures of the Environment [HOME] Study, 2003-present) in Cincinnati, OH. We applied 6 statistical methods: least absolute shrinkage and selection operator (LASSO), elastic net (ENET), Sparse Principal Component Analysis (SPCA), Weighted Quantile Sum (WQS) regression, Bayesian Kernel Machine Regression (BKMR), and Bayesian Additive Regression Trees (BART), to estimate covariate-adjusted associations with individual and their mixtures in multi-pollutant models. Results: Both LASSO and ENET models indicated inverse associations with reading scores for BDE-153 and BDE-28, and positive associations for CB-118, CB-180, perfluoroctanoate (PFOA), and perfluorononanoate (PFNA). The SPCA identified inverse associations for BDE-153 and BDE-100 and positive associations for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), PFOA, and PFNA, as parts of different principal component scores. The WQS regression showed the highest weights for BDE-100 (0.35) and BDE-28 (0.16) in the inverse association model and for PFNA (0.29) and CB-180 (0.21) in the positive association model. The BKMR model identified BDE-100 and BDE-153 for inverse associations and CB-118, CB-153, CB-180, PFOA, and PFNA for positive associations. The BART method found dose-response functions similar to the BKMR model. No interactions between POPs were identified. Conclusions: Despite some inconsistency among biomarkers, these analyses revealed inverse associations between prenatal PBDE concentrations and children's reading scores. Positive associations of PCB congeners and PFAS with reading skills were also found.


Persistent organic pollutants (POPs); Chemical mixtures; Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs); Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS); Neurodevelopment; Dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE); Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT)


Maternal and Child Health



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