Neurodevelopmental toxicity of prenatal polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) by chemical structure and activity: a birth cohort study

Divisions of Epidemiology, and of Environmental and Occupational Health, Department of Public Health Sciences, School of Medicine, University of California, Davis 95616, USA.
Environmental Health (Impact Factor: 2.71). 08/2010; 9:51. DOI: 10.1186/1476-069X-9-51
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are ubiquitous environmental toxins. Although there is growing evidence to support an association between PCBs and deficits of neurodevelopment, the specific mechanisms are not well understood. The potentially different roles of specific PCB groups defined by chemical structures or hormonal activities e.g., dioxin-like, non-dioxin like, or anti-estrogenic PCBs, remain unclear. Our objective was to examine the association between prenatal exposure to defined subsets of PCBs and neurodevelopment in a cohort of infants in eastern Slovakia enrolled at birth in 2002-2004.
Maternal and cord serum samples were collected at delivery, and analyzed for PCBs using high-resolution gas chromatography. The Bayley Scales of Infant Development -II (BSID) were administered at 16 months of age to over 750 children who also had prenatal PCB measurements.
Based on final multivariate-adjusted linear regression model, maternal mono-ortho-substituted PCBs were significantly associated with lower scores on both the psychomotor (PDI) and mental development indices (MDI). Also a significant association between cord mono-ortho-substituted PCBs and reduced PDI was observed, but the association with MDI was marginal (p = 0.05). Anti-estrogenic and di-ortho-substituted PCBs did not show any statistically significant association with cognitive scores, but a suggestive association between di-ortho-substituted PCBs measured in cord serum and poorer PDI was observed.
Children with higher prenatal mono-ortho-substituted PCB exposures performed more poorly on the Bayley Scales. Evidence from this and other studies suggests that prenatal dioxin-like PCB exposure, including mono-ortho congeners, may interfere with brain development in utero. Non-dioxin-like di-ortho-substituted PCBs require further investigation.

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