Prenatal exposure to mixture of heavy metals, pesticides and phenols and IQ in children at 7 years of age: The SMBCS study.Environ Int. 2020 Jun; 139:105692.EI
Prenatal exposure to heavy metals, pesticides and phenols has been suggested to interfere with neurodevelopment, but the neurotoxicity of their mixtures is still unclear. We aimed to elucidate the associations of maternal urinary concentrations of selected chemical mixtures with intelligence quotient (IQ) in children.
Maternal urinary concentrations of selected heavy metals, pesticide metabolites, and phenols were quantified in pregnant women who participated in the Sheyang Mini Birth Cohort Study (SMBCS) from June 2009 to January 2010. At age 7 years, child's IQ score was assessed using the Chinese version of Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (C-WISC) by trained pediatricians. Generalized linear regression models (GLM), Bayesian kernel machine regression (BKMR) models and elastic net regression (ENR) models were used to assess the associations of urinary concentrations individual chemicals and their mixtures with IQ scores of the 7-year-old children.
Of 326 mother-child pairs, single-chemical models indicated that prenatal urinary concentrations of lead (Pb) and bisphenol A (BPA) were significantly negatively associated with full intelligence quotient (FIQ) among children aged 7 years [β = -2.31, 95% confidence interval (CI): -4.13, -0.48; p = 0.013, sex interaction p-value = 0.076; β = -1.18, 95% CI: -2.21, -0.15; p = 0.025; sex interaction p-value = 0.296, for Pb and BPA, respectively]. Stratified analysis by sex indicated that the associations were only statistically significant in boys. In multi-chemical BKMR and ENR models, statistically significant inverse association was found between prenatal urinary Pb level and boy's FIQ scores at 7 years. Furthermore, BKMR analysis indicated that the overall mixture was associated with decreases in boy's IQ when all the chemicals' concentrations were at their 75th percentiles or higher, compared to at their 50th percentiles. ENR models revealed that maternal urinary Pb levels were statistically significantly associated with lower FIQ scores (β = -2.20, 95% CI: -4.20, -0.20; p = 0.031).
Prenatal exposure to selected chemical mixtures may affect intellectual performance at 7 years of age, particularly in boys. Pb and BPA were suspected as primary chemicals associated with child neurodevelopment.