Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
. 2013 Feb;121(2):257-62.
doi: 10.1289/ehp.1205597. Epub 2012 Nov 15.

In Utero and Childhood Polybrominated Diphenyl Ether (PBDE) Exposures and Neurodevelopment in the CHAMACOS Study

Free PMC article

In Utero and Childhood Polybrominated Diphenyl Ether (PBDE) Exposures and Neurodevelopment in the CHAMACOS Study

Brenda Eskenazi et al. Environ Health Perspect. .
Free PMC article


Background: California children's exposures to polybrominated diphenyl ether flame retardants (PBDEs) are among the highest worldwide. PBDEs are known endocrine disruptors and neurotoxicants in animals.

Objective: Here we investigate the relation of in utero and child PBDE exposure to neurobehavioral development among participants in CHAMACOS (Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas), a California birth cohort.

Methods: We measured PBDEs in maternal prenatal and child serum samples and examined the association of PBDE concentrations with children's attention, motor functioning, and cognition at 5 (n = 310) and 7 years of age (n = 323).

Results: Maternal prenatal PBDE concentrations were associated with impaired attention as measured by a continuous performance task at 5 years and maternal report at 5 and 7 years of age, with poorer fine motor coordination-particularly in the nondominant-at both age points, and with decrements in Verbal and Full-Scale IQ at 7 years. PBDE concentrations in children 7 years of age were significantly or marginally associated with concurrent teacher reports of attention problems and decrements in Processing Speed, Perceptual Reasoning, Verbal Comprehension, and Full-Scale IQ. These associations were not altered by adjustment for birth weight, gestational age, or maternal thyroid hormone levels.

Conclusions: Both prenatal and childhood PBDE exposures were associated with poorer attention, fine motor coordination, and cognition in the CHAMACOS cohort of school-age children. This study, the largest to date, contributes to growing evidence suggesting that PBDEs have adverse impacts on child neurobehavioral development.

Conflict of interest statement

The contents of this publication are solely the authors’ responsibility and do not necessarily represent the official views of the UC MEXUS, NIEHS, National Institutes of Health, the U.S. EPA, or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The authors declare they have no actual or potential competing financial interests.


Figure 1
Figure 1
The point estimate and 95% CI for each quartile (Q) of maternal ∑PBDE concentration for outcomes that showed overall associations and evidence of nonlinearity (at p < 0.1). The quartile ranges for maternal PBDEs were ≤ 14.4, 14.5–24.78, 24.8–41.97, and ≥ 42 ng/g lipid. Tests for trend come from models using PBDE quartile (1–4) as a continuous variable.

Comment in

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 117 articles

See all "Cited by" articles


    1. Achenbach T, Rescorla L. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont, Research Center for Children, Youth, and Families; 2000. Manual for the ASEBA Preschool Forms & Profiles.
    1. Adams W, Sheslow D. Wilmington, DE: Wide Range, Inc; 1995. Wide Range Assessment of Visual Motor Abilities (WRAVMA)
    1. American Psychiatric Association. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association; 1994. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th ed.
    1. Barr JR, Maggio VL, Barr DB, Turner WE, Sjödin A, Sandau CD, et al. New high-resolution mass spectrometric approach for the measurement of polychlorinated biphenyls and organochlorine pesticides in human serum. J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci. 2003;794(1):137–148. - PubMed
    1. Birnbaum LS, Staskal DF. Brominated flame retardants: cause for concern? Environ Health Perspect. 2004;112:9–17. - PMC - PubMed

Publication types


LinkOut - more resources