Association between humidifier disinfectant exposure during infancy and subsequent neuropsychiatric outcomes during childhood: a nation-wide cross-sectional study

BMC Pediatr. 2021 Aug 12;21(1):340. doi: 10.1186/s12887-021-02825-7.


Background: The purpose was to determine the association between infant exposure to humidifier disinfectant (HD) with neuropsychiatric problems in pre-school children.

Methods: A total of 2,150 children (age 4-11 months) were enrolled in the Panel Study of Korean Children (PSKC) study. The Korean version of the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) was used for assessments of neuropsychiatric problems. 1,113 children who participated in all the first to third PSKC studies and answered a question about HD exposure were finally enrolled.

Results: There were 717 (64.5%) children in non-HD group who were not exposed to HD and 396 (35.5%) in HD group with former exposure to HD. Exposure to HD was associated with total neuropsychiatric problems (adjusted odds ratio, aOR = 1.54, 95% CI = 1.15-2.06), being emotionally reactive (aOR = 1.55, 95% CI = 1.00-2.39), having attention problems (aOR = 1.96, 95% CI = 1.10-3.47), having oppositional defiant problems (aOR = 1.70, 95% CI = 1.07-2.71), and having attention deficit/hyperactivity problems (aOR = 11.57, 95% CI = 1.03-2.38). The risks for neuropsychiatric problems were clearly increased in boy, firstborn, and secondary smoker.

Conclusions: Exposure to HD during early childhood had a potential association with subsequent behavioral abnormalities.

Keywords: Behavior; Developmental problem; Humidifier disinfectant; Neuropsychiatric outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disinfectants* / toxicity
  • Humans
  • Humidifiers*
  • Infant
  • Male


  • Disinfectants