Background: Exposure to organophosphate (OP) pesticides, well-known neurotoxicants, has been associated with neurobehavioral deficits in children.
Objectives: We investigated whether OP exposure, as measured by urinary dialkyl phosphate (DAP) metabolites in pregnant women and their children, was associated with attention-related outcomes among Mexican-American children living in an agricultural region of California.
Methods: Children were assessed at ages 3.5 years (n = 331) and 5 years (n = 323). Mothers completed the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). We administered the NEPSY-II visual attention subtest to children at 3.5 years and Conners' Kiddie Continuous Performance Test (K-CPT) at 5 years. The K-CPT yielded a standardized attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) Confidence Index score. Psychometricians scored behavior of the 5-year-olds during testing using the Hillside Behavior Rating Scale.
Results: Prenatal DAPs (nanomoles per liter) were nonsignificantly associated with maternal report of attention problems and ADHD at age 3.5 years but were significantly related at age 5 years [CBCL attention problems: β = 0.7 points; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.2-1.2; ADHD: β = 1.3; 95% CI, 0.4-2.1]. Prenatal DAPs were associated with scores on the K-CPT ADHD Confidence Index > 70th percentile [odds ratio (OR) = 5.1; 95% CI, 1.7-15.7] and with a composite ADHD indicator of the various measures (OR = 3.5; 95% CI, 1.1-10.7). Some outcomes exhibited evidence of effect modification by sex, with associations found only among boys. There was also limited evidence of associations between child DAPs and attention.
Conclusions: In utero DAPs and, to a lesser extent, postnatal DAPs were associated adversely with attention as assessed by maternal report, psychometrician observation, and direct assessment. These associations were somewhat stronger at 5 years than at 3.5 years and were stronger in boys.