Early-life exposure to persistent organic pollutants (OCPs, PBDEs, PCBs, PFASs) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: A multi-pollutant analysis of a Norwegian birth cohort


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Year of publication 2019
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Environment International
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Web https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412018306810?via%3Dihub
Doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2019.01.020
Keywords Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); Contaminants; Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs); Environmental chemicals; Hyperkinetic disorder; Neurodevelopment
Description Background: Numerous ubiquitous environmental chemicals are established or suspected neurotoxicants, and infants are exposed to a mixture of these during the critical period of brain maturation. However, evidence for associations with the risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is sparse. We investigated early-life chemical exposures in relation to ADHD. Methods: We used a birth cohort of 2606 Norwegian mother-child pairs enrolled 2002-2009 (HUMIS), and studied a subset of 1199 pairs oversampled for child neurodevelopmental outcomes. Concentrations of 27 persistent organic pollutants (14 polychlorinated biphenyls, 5 organochlorine pesticides, 6 brominated flame retardants, and 2 perfluoroalkyl substances) were measured in breast milk, reflecting the child's early-life exposures. We estimated postnatal exposures in the first 2 years of life using a pharmacokinetic model. Fifty-five children had a clinical diagnosis of ADHD (hyperkinetic disorder) by 2016, at a median age of 13 years. We used elastic net penalized logistic regression models to identify associations while adjusting for co-exposure confounding, and subsequently used multivariable logistic regression models to obtain effect estimates for the selected exposures. Results: Breast milk concentrations of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and beta-hexachlorocyclohexane (beta-HCH) were associated with increased odds of ADHD: odds ratio (OR) = 1.77, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.16, 2.72 and OR = 1.75, 95% CI: 1.22, 2.53, per interquartile range increase in ln-transformed concentrations, respectively. Stronger associations were observed among girls than boys for PFOS (p(interaction) = 0.025). p,p'-Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (p,p'-DDT) levels were associated with lower odds of ADHD (OR = 0.64, 95% CI: 0.42, 0.97). Hexachlorobenzene (HCB) had a non-linear association with ADHD, with increasing risk in the low-level exposure range that switched to a decreasing risk at concentrations above 8 ng/g lipid. Postnatal exposures showed similar results, whereas effect estimates for other chemicals were weaker and imprecise. Conclusions: In a multi-pollutant analysis of four classes of chemicals, early-life exposure to beta-HCH and PFOS was associated with increased risk of ADHD, with suggestion of sex-specific effects for PFOS. The unexpected inverse associations between p,p'-DDT and higher HCB levels and ADHD could be due to live birth bias; alternatively, results may be due to chance findings.
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