Childhood polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) exposure and neurobehavior in children at 8 years

Environ Res. 2017 Oct;158:677-684. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2017.07.028. Epub 2017 Jul 19.


Background: Prenatal polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) exposure has been associated with decrements in IQ and increased attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder related behaviors in children; however, data are limited for the role of postnatal exposures.

Objectives: We investigated the association between a series of childhood PBDE concentrations and Full-Scale Intelligence Quotient (FSIQ) and externalizing problems at 8 years.

Methods: We used data from 208 children in the Health Outcomes and Measures of the Environment (HOME) Study, a prospective pregnancy and birth cohort. Child serum PBDEs were measured at 1, 2, 3, 5, and 8 years; missing serum PBDE concentrations were estimated via multiple imputation. The Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Children-IV and the Behavior Assessment System for Children-2 was used to assess intelligence and externalizing behavior, respectively, in children at 8 years. We used multiple informant models to estimate associations between repeated lipid-adjusted PBDEs and child neurobehavior and to test for windows of susceptibility.

Results: Postnatal exposure to PBDE congeners (- 28, - 47, - 99, - 100, and - 153) at multiple ages was inversely associated with FSIQ at 8 years. For instance, a 10-fold increase in BDE-153 concentrations at 2, 3, 5, and 8 years were all related to lower FSIQ at age 8 (β for 3 years: - 7.7-points, 95% CI - 12.5, - 2.9; β for 8 years: - 5.6-points, 95% CI - 10.8, - 0.4). Multiple PBDE congeners at 8 years were associated with increased hyperactivity and aggressive behaviors at 8 years.

Conclusions: Postnatal PBDE exposure was associated with decrements in FSIQ and increases in hyperactivity and aggressive behaviors.

Keywords: Childhood; Externalizing behavior; Intelligence; Neurobehavior; Polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE); Postnatal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / chemically induced*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity
  • Female
  • Flame Retardants / analysis
  • Flame Retardants / toxicity
  • Halogenated Diphenyl Ethers / blood*
  • Halogenated Diphenyl Ethers / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Intelligence Tests*
  • Male
  • Ohio
  • Prospective Studies


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Flame Retardants
  • Halogenated Diphenyl Ethers