Journal Article

Prenatal Exposure to Low-Level Polychlorinated Biphenyls in Relation to Mental and Motor Development at 8 Months

Julie L. Daniels, Matthew P. Longnecker, Mark A. Klebanoff, Kimberly A. Gray, John W. Brock, Haibo Zhou, Zhen Chen and Larry L. Needham

in American Journal of Epidemiology

Published on behalf of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Volume 157, issue 6, pages 485-492
Published in print March 2003 | ISSN: 0002-9262
Published online March 2003 | e-ISSN: 1476-6256 | DOI:
Prenatal Exposure to Low-Level Polychlorinated Biphenyls in Relation to Mental and Motor Development at 8 Months

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The relation between exposure to low levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a class of persistent organic pollutants, and cognitive and motor development in young children has been examined in several studies, and results have varied. The authors evaluated the association between prenatal exposure to PCBs and children’s neurodevelopment using data from the Collaborative Perinatal Project. Pregnant women were enrolled from 1959 to 1965 from 12 sites across the United States. PCBs were measured in maternal serum taken during pregnancy. To measure children’s mental and psychomotor development at 8 months of age, the authors administered the Bayley Scales of Infant Development (means, 87 (standard deviation, 15) and 88 (standard deviation, 18), respectively). Overall, they did not observe a relation between prenatal PCB exposure and children’s mental or psychomotor scores (n = 1,207; multivariate adjusted β = 0.1 point per µg/liter increase of PCB, p = 0.71, and β = 0.5, p = 0.14, respectively). The PCB-psychomotor score relation varied by study center (p < 0.05): The association was direct in some centers, inverse in others. This could not be attributed to variation in the timing or measurement of the child’s neurodevelopment or analysis of PCBs because these were standardized across centers. The reasons for variation in results within this study and across other studies remain unclear.

Keywords: infant; mental status schedule; motor skills; polychlorinated biphenyls; prenatal exposure delayed effects; Abbreviations: DDE, dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene; MDI, Mental Development Index; PCB, polychlorinated biphenyl; PDI, Psychomotor Development Index.

Journal Article.  5842 words. 

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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