Purpose: To examine the association between telomere length and neurodevelopment in children.
Methods: We examined the relationship between relative telomere length (rTL) and neurodevelopmental outcomes at 9 and 30 months, and 5 years of age in children enrolled in the Seychelles Child Development Study Nutrition Cohort 1 (NC1). Relative telomere length was measured in cord blood and in child blood at age five. Multivariable linear regression examined associations between neurodevelopmental outcomes and rTL adjusting for relevant covariates.
Results: Mean rTL was 1.18 at birth and 0.71 at age five. Increased cord blood rTL was associated with better scores on two neurodevelopmental tests, the psychomotor developmental index (β = 4.01; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.17, 7.85) at age 30 months, and the Woodcock Johnson test of achievement letter-word score (β = 2.88; CI = 1.21-4.56) at age five. The Woodcock Johnson test of achievement letter-word score remained statistically significant after two outliers were excluded (β = 2.83; CI = 0.69, 4.97); the psychomotor developmental index did not (β = 3.62; CI = -1.28, 8.52). None of the neurodevelopmental outcomes at age five were associated with five-year rTL.
Conclusion: Although increased cord blood rTL was associated with better test scores for a few neurodevelopmental outcomes, this study found little consistent evidence of an association between rTL and neurodevelopment. Future studies with a larger sample size, longer follow-up, and other relevant biological markers (e.g. oxidative stress) are needed to clarify the role of rTL in neurodevelopment and its relevance as a potential surrogate measure for oxidative stress in the field of developmental neurotoxicity.
Keywords: Children; Cognition; Epidemiology; Language.
Copyright © 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.