Prenatal exposure to perfluorinated chemicals and neurodevelopment in early infancy: The Hokkaido Study

Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) are ubiquitous and persistent pollutants widely detected in blood samples of animals and humans across the globe. Although animal studies have shown the potential neurotoxicity of PFCs, there are few epidemiological studies regarding neurological effects of PFCs in humans, and those studies have had inconclusive results. In this study, the authors conducted a hospital-based prospective birth cohort study between 2002 and 2005 (n=514) to examine the associations between prenatal perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) exposures and the neurodevelopment of infants at 6 (n=173) and 18 (n=133) months of age. Using the second edition of the Bayley Scales of Infant Development (BSID II), the Mental and Psychomotor Developmental Indices (MDI and PDI, respectively) were assessed. PFOS and PFOA were measured in maternal serum samples by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. After controlling for confounders, prenatal PFOA concentrations were associated with the MDI of female (but not male) infants at 6months of age (?=-0.296; 95% confidence interval (CI): -11.96, -0.682). Furthermore, females born to mothers with prenatal concentrations of PFOA in the fourth quartile had MDI scores -5.05 (95% CI: -10.66 to 0.55) lower than females born to mothers with concentrations of PFOA in the first quartile (p for trend=0.045). However, PFOA concentrations were not significantly associated with neurodevelopmental indices at 18months of age. In addition, we did not observe any significant association between PFOS concentrations and neurodevelopmental outcomes in early infancy. In conclusion, the results suggest that prenatal PFOA exposure may affect female mental scales of neurodevelopment at 6months of age. Further studies with larger sample sizes and longer observation periods are required to clarify sex difference of the neurodevelopmental effects.

Authors: Goudarzi H, Nakajima S, Ikeno T, Sasaki S, Kobayashi S, Miyashita C, Ito S, Araki A, Nakazawa H, Kishi R. ;Full Source: Science of the Total Environment. 2015 Oct 13;541:1002-1010. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.10.017. [Epub ahead of print] ;