Prenatal exposure to perfluroalkyl substances and children's IQ: The Taiwan maternal and infant cohort study

Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2015 Oct;218(7):639-44. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2015.07.002. Epub 2015 Jul 9.


Background: Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are a group of fluorinated organic substances that are widely used in consumer products and are often detectable in human tissues. Human studies on prenatal exposure to PFASs and neurodevelopment in children are few and inconsistent.

Methods: In the Taiwan Maternal and Infant Cohort Study, we collected serum samples from pregnant women during the third trimester and measured concentrations of 9 PFASs using a high performance liquid chromatography system. A subsample of their children was assessed with full scale intelligence quotient (FSIQ), verbal IQ (VIQ) and performance IQ (PIQ) at both age 5 (n=120) and 8 years (n=120). We used multivariate linear regression models to examine prenatal PFAS exposure in relation to IQ scores at each age period.

Results: Prenatal perfluoroundecanoic acid (PFUnDA) concentrations were inversely associated with children's PIQ scores at age 5 years, with an adjusted coefficient (β) of -1.6 (95% confidence interval [CI]: (-3.0, -0.2). When children reached 8 years, most of the prenatal PFASs showed inverse association with children's FSIQ, VIQ and PIQ scores. Among them, prenatal perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) reached significance. Children with higher prenatal PFNA levels had lower VIQ with an adjusted β of -2.1 (95% CI: -3.9, -0.2).

Conclusions: We found two prenatal PFAS exposure, both long-chain PFASs, in association with decreased IQ test scores in children. Our findings suggest more studies on long-chain PFASs and children's neurodevelopment.

Keywords: Children; IQ; Perfluoroalkyl substances; Prenatal exposure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Development / drug effects*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Environmental Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Fluorinated / adverse effects*
  • Intelligence / drug effects*
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Male
  • Maternal Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Taiwan


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Hydrocarbons, Fluorinated