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Prenatal Organophosphorus Pesticide Exposure and Child Neurodevelopment at 24 Months: An Analysis of Four Birth Cohorts



Organophosphorus pesticides (OPs) are used in agriculture worldwide. Residential use was common in the United States before 2001.


We conducted a pooled analysis of four birth cohorts (children's centers; n = 936) to evaluate associations of prenatal exposure to OPs with child development at 24 months.


Using general linear models, we computed site-specific and pooled estimates of the association of total dialkyl (ΣDAP), diethyl (ΣDEP), and dimethylphosphate (ΣDMP) metabolite concentrations in maternal prenatal urine with mental and psychomotor development indices (MDI/PDI) and evaluated heterogeneity by children's center, race/ethnicity, and PON1 genotype.


There was significant heterogeneity in the center-specific estimates of association for ΣDAP and ΣDMP and the MDI (p = 0.09, and p = 0.05, respectively), as well as heterogeneity in the race/ethnicity-specific estimates for ΣDAP (p = 0.06) and ΣDMP (p = 0.02) and the MDI. Strong MDI associations in the CHAMACOS population per 10-fold increase in ΣDAP (β = -4.17; 95% CI: -7.00, -1.33) and ΣDMP (β = -3.64; 95% CI: -5.97, -1.32) were influential, as were associations among Hispanics (β per 10-fold increase in ΣDAP = -2.91; 95% CI: -4.71, -1.12). We generally found stronger negative associations of ΣDAP and ΣDEP with the 24-month MDI for carriers of the 192Q PON1 allele, particularly among blacks and Hispanics.


Data pooling was complicated by center-related differences in subject characteristics, eligibility, and changes in regulations governing residential use of OPs during the study periods. Pooled summary estimates of prenatal exposure to OPs and neurodevelopment should be interpreted with caution because of significant heterogeneity in associations by center, race/ethnicity, and PON1 genotype. Subgroups with unique exposure profiles or susceptibilities may be at higher risk for adverse neurodevelopment following prenatal exposure.


Engel SM, Bradman A, Wolff MS, Rauh VA, Harley KG, Yang JH, Hoepner LA, Barr DB, Yolton K, Vedar MG, Xu Y, Hornung RW, Wetmur JG, Chen J, Holland NT, Perera FP, Whyatt RM, Lanphear BP, Eskenazi B. 2016. Prenatal organophosphorus pesticide exposure and child neurodevelopment at 24 months: an analysis of four birth cohorts. Environ Health Perspect 124:822-830;

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