Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

PCBs Make Their Mark: Review Pinpoints Cognitive Profile of Prenatal Exposure

Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

PCBs Make Their Mark: Review Pinpoints Cognitive Profile of Prenatal Exposure

Article excerpt

Prenatal exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) impairs cognitive development in infants and children, according to numberous studies of these ubiquitous environmental pollutants. Studies of PCB damage have considered many different end points, but the results of these different studies have never been coordinated to pinpoint the neuropsychologic functions most likely to be damaged by prenatal exposure to PCBs. However, a review of longitudinal birth cohort studies in the medical literature reveals that impairment of executive functions--high-order brain processes responsible for planning, flexible thinking, abstract reasoning, problem sloving, and inhibition of inappropriate actions--most consistently reflects prenatal PCB exposure [EHP 117:7-Boucher et al.].

The review authors selected nine longitudinal birth cohort studies performed between 1959 to 2008 in North America, Europe, and Japan. Consumption of fish, whale blubber, and dairy products by pregnant women was the main source of prenatal PCB exposure as reflected b maternal serum concentrations that ranged from 23 to 450 ng/g of fat. All combined, about 4,000 children were monitored at different ages, from as early as 3 months to as late as 11 years, depending on the study. …

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