Introduction: In 1979, approximately 2000 people in central Taiwan were exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls and dibenzofurans (PCBs/PCDFs) due to ingestion of contaminated rice oil. The children born to mothers exposed to PCBs/PCDFs were called Yucheng children. We conducted a follow-up study to examine the association between gestational PCBs/PCDFS exposure and auditory function in Yucheng children's early adulthood.
Methods: In 1985 and early 1992, Yucheng children and their age, gender, socio-economic matched unexposed referent children were recruited for physical examination and long-term follow-ups. In 2007, Yucheng children and referent children were invited to participate in a health examination, including assessment of pure-tone air-conduction thresholds and distortion product otoacoustic emissions (DPOAEs) test. Gestational exposure to PCBs/PCDFs in Yucheng children were estimated by back-extrapolation of their mother's serum concentration to the time of childbirth.
Results: A total of 86 Yucheng children (51.2% males) and 97 referent children (50.5% males) were included for analysis. No difference was found in demographic characteristics between two groups. Among the Yucheng children, 53 had estimated PCBs/PCDFs concentrations. We found that Yucheng children were at higher risk of having elevated hearing threshold at low frequencies in the right ear. Estimated maternal concentrations of 2,3,4,7,8-pnCDF at the time of birth were associated with increased hearing thresholds and decreased DPOAEs amplitudes at low frequencies in the right ear.
Conclusion: Gestational exposure to PCBs/PCDFs caused adverse asymmetrical hearing effects detectable even in early adulthood.
Keywords: Gestational; Hearing loss; PCBs; PCDFs; Polychlorinated biphenyls; Polychlorinated dibenzofurans; Prenatal; Yucheng.
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