Levels of breast milk PBDEs from southern Taiwan and their potential impact on neurodevelopment

Pediatr Res. 2011 Dec;70(6):596-600. doi: 10.1203/PDR.0b013e3182320b9b.


In vivo studies have demonstrated that prenatal or neonatal exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) causes developmental neurotoxicity. However, there is a lack of human data. Our hypothesis was that PBDEs would result in lower infant neurodevelopment scores. This is a post hoc analysis of previous studies. Fourteen PBDEs in 70 breast milk were analyzed using a high-resolution gas chromatograph/high-resolution mass spectrometer. Infant neurodevelopment at the age of 8-12 mo was determined using the Bayley Scales of Infants and Toddlers Development, third edition (Bayley-III). The median of Σ14 PBDEs (the sum of 14 PBDE congeners) was 2.92 ng/g lipid. The Σ14 PBDE concentrations were not correlated with Bayley-III scores on cognitive, language, motor, social-emotional, or adaptive behavior scales. A significantly inverse association between brominated diphenyl ether (BDE)-209 and the cognitive scale was found after multivariate stepwise linear regression analyses (B = -0.007, adjusted R = -0.224, p = 0.032). In contrast, the language scale was positively correlated with BDE-196 (B = 0.096, adjusted R = 0.315, p = 0.002). Our results are consistent with most in vivo studies, suggesting that prenatal or postnatal exposure to BDE-209 potentially delays the neurological development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / drug effects*
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Environmental Pollutants / analysis
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Female
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Halogenated Diphenyl Ethers / analysis
  • Halogenated Diphenyl Ethers / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Language Development*
  • Linear Models
  • Milk, Human / chemistry*
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects*
  • Taiwan


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Halogenated Diphenyl Ethers