Background: We recently reported results of a cross-sectional investigation of intellectual function in 10-year-olds in Bangladesh, who had been exposed to arsenic from drinking water in their home wells.
Objectives: We present results of a similar investigation of 301 randomly selected 6-year-olds whose parents participated in our ongoing prospective study of the health effects of As exposure in 12,000 residents of Araihazar, Bangladesh.
Methods: Water As and manganese concentrations of tube wells at each home were obtained by surveying all study region wells. Children and mothers were first visited at home, where the quality of home stimulation was measured, and then seen in our field clinic, where children received a medical examination wherein weight, height, and head circumference were assessed. We assessed children's intellectual function using subtests drawn from the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence, version III, by summing weighted items across domains to create Verbal, Performance, Processing Speed, and Full-Scale raw scores. Children provided urine specimens for measuring urinary As and were asked to provide blood samples for blood lead measurements.
Results: Exposure to As from drinking water was associated with reduced intellectual function before and after adjusting for water Mn, for blood lead levels, and for sociodemographic features known to contribute to intellectual function. With covariate adjustment, water As remained significantly negatively associated with both Performance and Processing Speed raw scores; associations were less strong than in our previously studied 10-year-olds.
Conclusion: This second cross-sectional study of As exposure expands our concerns about As neurotoxicity to a younger age group.