Pollutants Alter Play: Another Way PCBs Affect Children. (Science Selections)

By Potera, Carol | Environmental Health Perspectives, October 2002 | Go to article overview

Pollutants Alter Play: Another Way PCBs Affect Children. (Science Selections)


Potera, Carol, Environmental Health Perspectives


A prospective Dutch study that has tracked various health consequences of perinatal exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxins since 1990 continues to offer new insights into children's health [EHP 110:A593-A598]. The latest assessment by the team, headed by Hestien J. I. Vreugdenhil of Erasmus University Rotterdam and Sophia Children's Hospital, finds that prenatal exposure to these pollutants can influence play behaviors that reflect sex differences.

In this latest stage of the study, 189 children, average age 7.5 years, were evaluated using the Pre-School Activities Inventory, a questionnaire asking parents about their children's play behaviors. The inventory consists of 24 questions that distinguish play behavior between the sexes by focusing on three key aspects of play--type of toys, activities, and child characteristics. Representative questions include whether a child prefers playing with tools versus playing with dolls, taking care of babies versus climbing, and avoiding dirt versus taking risks. Three scales are derived from the inventory: a feminine scale, a masculine scale, and a composite scale integrating both masculine and feminine behaviors.

Each child's perinatal exposure to 4 environmentally important PCBs was estimated from levels of the pollutants in the mother's blood, umbilical cord blood, and breast milk. …

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