Prenatal and Childhood Exposure to Poly- and Perfluoroalkyl Substances (Pfas) and Cognitive Development in Children at Age 8 Years

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Environmental Research



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Background: Toxicological studies indicate that poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) may be neurotoxic, but human studies have yet to provide compelling evidence for PFAS’ impact on cognitive abilities. Objective: To test whether prenatal and childhood PFAS are associated with cognitive abilities at 8 years and whether sex modifies these associations. Methods: We included 221 mother-child pairs from the Health Outcomes and Measures of the Environment (HOME) Study, a birth cohort in Cincinnati, OH (USA). We quantified PFAS in maternal serum at 16 ± 3 weeks gestation and in child serum at 3 and 8 years. We used the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Fourth Edition (WISC-IV) at age 8 years, assessing Full Scale IQ (FSIQ), verbal comprehension, perceptual reasoning, working memory, and processing speed. We used multiple informant models to estimate covariate-adjusted differences in WISC-IV scores by repeated ln-transformed PFAS. Results: Prenatal and childhood perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS) were not associated with WISC-IV measures. We observed an increase of 4.1-points (95% CI 0.3, 8.0) and 5.7-points (95% CI 1.2, 10.2) in working memory with 1-ln unit increase in prenatal perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) and perfluorononanoate (PFNA), respectively. In addition, PFNA at 3 years was associated with better FSIQ and perceptual reasoning. Child sex modified the relationship between prenatal PFOA and FSIQ; the association was positive in females only. Sex also modified the association between concurrent PFOS and FSIQ, with males having higher scores. Conclusion: We did not observe adverse associations between prenatal and childhood PFAS and cognitive function at age 8 years.


Poly- and perfluoroalklyl substances; Neurodevelopment; Cognitive development; IQ; Prenatal; Childhood


Cognitive Neuroscience | Life Sciences | Neuroscience and Neurobiology



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