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      Developmental PBDE Exposure and IQ/ADHD in Childhood: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis


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          In the United States, one in six children are affected by neurodevelopmental disorders, and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in flame-retardant chemicals are measured ubiquitously in children.


          We conducted a systematic a systematic review regarding developmental exposure to PBDEs and intelligence or Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and attention-related behavioral conditions in humans.


          We searched articles published up to 26 September 2016, and included original studies that quantified exposures to PBDEs incurred any time in proximity to conception or during in utero, perinatal, or childhood time periods. We evaluated the risk of bias of individual studies and the overall quality and strength of the evidence according to the Navigation Guide systematic review methodology. We established criteria in advance to identify studies that could be combined using random effects meta-analyses (DerSimonian-Laird method).


          Fifteen studies met the inclusion criteria; 10 studies met the criteria for intelligence and nine for attention-related problems. We rated studies generally with “low” to “probably low” risk of bias and rated the overall body of evidence as “moderate” quality with “sufficient” evidence for an association between Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and PBDEs. Our meta-analysis of four studies estimated a 10-fold increase (in other words, times 10) in PBDE exposure associated with a decrement of 3.70 IQ points (95% confidence interval: 0.83, 6.56). We concluded the body of evidence was of “moderate” quality for ADHD with “limited” evidence for an association with PBDEs, based on the heterogeneity of association estimates reported by a small number of studies and the fact that chance, bias, and confounding could not be ruled out with reasonable confidence.


          We concluded there was sufficient evidence supporting an association between developmental PBDE exposure and reduced IQ. Preventing developmental exposure to PBDEs could help prevent loss of human intelligence. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP1632

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          Low-Level Environmental Lead Exposure and Children’s Intellectual Function: An International Pooled Analysis

          Lead is a confirmed neurotoxin, but questions remain about lead-associated intellectual deficits at blood lead levels < 10 μg/dL and whether lower exposures are, for a given change in exposure, associated with greater deficits. The objective of this study was to examine the association of intelligence test scores and blood lead concentration, especially for children who had maximal measured blood lead levels < 10 μg/dL. We examined data collected from 1,333 children who participated in seven international population-based longitudinal cohort studies, followed from birth or infancy until 5–10 years of age. The full-scale IQ score was the primary outcome measure. The geometric mean blood lead concentration of the children peaked at 17.8 μg/dL and declined to 9.4 μg/dL by 5–7 years of age; 244 (18%) children had a maximal blood lead concentration < 10 μg/dL, and 103 (8%) had a maximal blood lead concentration < 7.5 μg/dL. After adjustment for covariates, we found an inverse relationship between blood lead concentration and IQ score. Using a log-linear model, we found a 6.9 IQ point decrement [95% confidence interval (CI), 4.2–9.4] associated with an increase in concurrent blood lead levels from 2.4 to 30 μg/dL. The estimated IQ point decrements associated with an increase in blood lead from 2.4 to 10 μg/dL, 10 to 20 μg/dL, and 20 to 30 μg/dL were 3.9 (95% CI, 2.4–5.3), 1.9 (95% CI, 1.2–2.6), and 1.1 (95% CI, 0.7–1.5), respectively. For a given increase in blood lead, the lead-associated intellectual decrement for children with a maximal blood lead level < 7.5 μg/dL was significantly greater than that observed for those with a maximal blood lead level ≥7.5 μg/dL (p = 0.015). We conclude that environmental lead exposure in children who have maximal blood lead levels < 7.5 μg/dL is associated with intellectual deficits.
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            Environmental Chemicals in Pregnant Women in the United States: NHANES 2003–2004

            Background Exposure to chemicals during fetal development can increase the risk of adverse health effects, and while biomonitoring studies suggest pregnant women are exposed to chemicals, little is known about the extent of multiple chemicals exposures among pregnant women in the United States. Objective We analyzed biomonitoring data from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) to characterize both individual and multiple chemical exposures in U.S. pregnant women. Methods We analyzed data for 163 chemical analytes in 12 chemical classes for subsamples of 268 pregnant women from NHANES 2003–2004, a nationally representative sample of the U.S. population. For each chemical analyte, we calculated descriptive statistics. We calculated the number of chemicals detected within the following chemical classes: polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), organochlorine pesticides, and phthalates and across multiple chemical classes. We compared chemical analyte concentrations for pregnant and nonpregnant women using least-squares geometric means, adjusting for demographic and physiological covariates. Results The percentage of pregnant women with detectable levels of an individual chemical ranged from 0 to 100%. Certain polychlorinated biphenyls, organochlorine pesticides, PFCs, phenols, PBDEs, phthalates, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and perchlorate were detected in 99–100% of pregnant women. The median number of detected chemicals by chemical class ranged from 4 of 12 PFCs to 9 of 13 phthalates. Across chemical classes, median number ranged from 8 of 17 chemical analytes to 50 of 71 chemical analytes. We found, generally, that levels in pregnant women were similar to or lower than levels in nonpregnant women; adjustment for covariates tended to increase levels in pregnant women compared with nonpregnant women. Conclusions Pregnant women in the U.S. are exposed to multiple chemicals. Further efforts are warranted to understand sources of exposure and implications for policy making.
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              Brominated flame retardants: cause for concern?

              Brominated flame retardants (BFRs) have routinely been added to consumer products for several decades in a successful effort to reduce fire-related injury and property damage. Recently, concern for this emerging class of chemicals has risen because of the occurrence of several classes of BFRs in the environment and in human biota. The widespread production and use of BFRs; strong evidence of increasing contamination of the environment, wildlife, and people; and limited knowledge of potential effects heighten the importance of identifying emerging issues associated with the use of BFRs. In this article, we briefly review scientific issues associated with the use of tetrabromobisphenol A, hexabromocyclododecane, and three commercial mixtures of polybrominated diphenyl ethers and discuss data gaps. Overall, the toxicology database is very limited; the current literature is incomplete and often conflicting. Available data, however, raise concern over the use of certain classes of brominated flame retardants.

                Author and article information

                Environ Health Perspect
                Environ. Health Perspect
                Environmental Health Perspectives
                Environmental Health Perspectives
                03 August 2017
                August 2017
                : 125
                : 8
                [ 1 ]Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment, University of California , San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA
                [ 2 ]Simon Fraser University , Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
                [ 3 ]Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard University , Boston, Massachusetts, USA
                [ 4 ]Office of Policy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency , Washington, District of Columbia, USA
                [ 5 ]Environmental Defense Fund , Washington, District of Columbia, USA
                [ 6 ]Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Kaiser Permanente , Oakland, California, USA
                [ 7 ]University of Tennessee Health Science Center , Memphis, Tennessee, USA
                Author notes
                Address correspondence to J. Lam, Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment, University of California, San Francisco, Mail Stop 0132, 550 16th St., 7th floor, San Francisco, CA 94143 USA. Telephone: (415) 476-3219. Email: Juleen.Lam@ 123456ucsf.edu

                EHP is an open-access journal published with support from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health. All content is public domain unless otherwise noted.


                Public health
                Public health


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