Neurobehavioral deficits associated with PCB in 7-year-old children prenatally exposed to seafood neurotoxicants

Neurotoxicol Teratol. Jul-Aug 2001;23(4):305-17. doi: 10.1016/s0892-0362(01)00155-6.


Prenatal exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) was examined by analysis of cord tissue from 435 children from a Faroese birth cohort. Analysis of 50 paired cord blood samples showed excellent correlation with the cord tissue concentration (r=.90). Among 17 neuropsychological outcomes determined at age 7 years, the cord PCB concentration was associated with deficits on the Boston Naming Test (without cues, two-tailed P=.09 not adjusted for mercury; with cues, P=.03), the Continuous Performance Test reaction time (P=.03), and, possibly, on long-term recall on the California Verbal Learning Test (P=.15). The association between cord PCB and cord-blood mercury (r=.42) suggested possible confounding. While no PCB effects were apparent in children with low mercury exposure, PCB-associated deficits within the highest tertile of mercury exposure indicated a possible interaction between the two neurotoxicants. PCB-associated increased thresholds were seen at two of eight frequencies on audiometry, but only on the left side, and no deficits occurred on evoked potentials or contrast sensitivity. The limited PCB-related neurotoxicity in this cohort appears to be affected by concomitant methylmercury exposure.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Denmark / ethnology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intelligence
  • Learning / drug effects
  • Memory / drug effects
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Neurotoxins / poisoning*
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / poisoning*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Seafood / poisoning*
  • Wechsler Scales


  • Neurotoxins
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls