Chlorpyrifos exposure and urban residential environment characteristics as determinants of early childhood neurodevelopment

Am J Public Health. 2011 Jan;101(1):63-70. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2009.168419. Epub 2010 Mar 18.


Objectives: We evaluated whether neighborhood characteristics correlated with early neurodevelopment and whether these characteristics confounded the previously reported association between exposure to chlorpyrifos (an organophosphate insecticide) and neurodevelopment.

Methods: We obtained prenatal addresses, chlorpyrifos exposure data, and 36-month Psychomotor Development Index (PDI) and Mental Development Index (MDI) scores for a birth cohort in New York City (born 1998-2002). We used data from the 2000 US Census to estimate measures of physical infrastructure, socioeconomic status, crowding, demographic composition, and linguistic isolation for 1-kilometer network areas around each child's prenatal address. Generalized estimating equations were adjusted for demographics, maternal education and IQ, prenatal exposure to tobacco smoke, caretaking environment quality, and building dilapidation.

Results: Of 266 children included as participants, 47% were male, 59% were Dominican, and 41% were African American. For each standard deviation higher in neighborhood percent poverty, the PDI score was 2.6 points lower (95% confidence interval [CI] = -3.7, -1.5), and the MDI score was 1.7 points lower (95% CI = -2.6, -0.8). Neighborhood-level confounding of the chlorpyrifos-neurodevelopment association was not apparent.

Conclusions: Neighborhood context and chlorpyrifos exposure were independently associated with neurodevelopment, thus providing distinct opportunities for health promotion.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chlorpyrifos / adverse effects*
  • Developmental Disabilities / chemically induced*
  • Developmental Disabilities / epidemiology
  • Developmental Disabilities / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Insecticides / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • New York City / epidemiology
  • Poverty Areas
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / epidemiology*
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / prevention & control
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Regression Analysis


  • Insecticides
  • Chlorpyrifos

Grant support