Prenatal and childhood exposure to perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and measures of attention, impulse control, and visual spatial abilities.

Environ Int 2018 10 20;119:413-420. Epub 2018 Jul 20.

Division of Epidemiology, Department of Environmental Health, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, P.O. Box 670056, Cincinnati, OH 45267, USA. Electronic address:

Background: Despite evidence from toxicological studies describing the potential neurotoxicity of perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), their role in neurodevelopment remains uncertain amid inconsistent findings from epidemiological studies.

Methods: Using data from 218 mother-child dyads from the Health Outcomes and Measures of the Environment Study, we examined prenatal and childhood (3 and 8 years) serum concentrations of four PFAS and inattention, impulsivity, and visual spatial abilities. At 8 years, we used the Conners' Continuous Performance Test-II to assess attention and impulse control and the Virtual Morris Water Maze (VMWM) to measure visual spatial abilities.

Results: In multiple informant models, there was no evidence to indicate that prenatal or childhood PFAS are associated with attention. However, there was an inverse association between prenatal ln-perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) and errors of commission (β = -2.0, 95% Confidence Interval [CI] -3.8, -0.3). Ln-perfluorononanoate (PFNA) at 3 years was associated with longer (poorer) VMWM completion times of 3.6 seconds (CI 1.6, 5.6). However, higher concurrent concentrations of ln-perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS) (β = -2.4 s, 95% CI -4.4, -0.3) were associated with shorter (better) times. Higher prenatal PFHxS was positively associated with percentage of traveling distance in the correct quadrant (β = 4.2%, 95% CI 0.8, 7.7), indicating better performance.

Conclusion: Findings were mixed for prenatal and childhood PFAS concentrations and visual spatial abilities. There is not enough evidence to support that PFAS are associated with visual spatial abilities as assessed by the VMWM or CPT-II measures of inattention or impulsivity in children at age 8 years.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2018.07.013DOI Listing
October 2018
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