Environmental health perspectives

Prenatal p,p´-DDE exposure and neurodevelopment among children 3.5-5 years of age.

PMID 23151722


The results of previous studies suggest that prenatal exposure to bis[p-chlorophenyl]-1,1,1-trichloroethane (DDT) and to its main metabolite, 2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)-1,1-dichloroethylene (DDE), impairs psychomotor development during the first year of life. However, information about the persistence of this association at later ages is limited. We assessed the association of prenatal DDE exposure with child neurodevelopment at 42-60 months of age. Since 2001 we have been monitoring the neurodevelopment in children who were recruited at birth into a perinatal cohort exposed to DDT, in the state of Morelos, Mexico. We report McCarthy Scales of Children's Abilities for 203 children at 42, 48, 54, and 60 months of age. Maternal DDE serum levels were available for at least one trimester of pregnancy. The Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment scale and other covariables of interest were also available. After adjustment, a doubling of DDE during the third trimester of pregnancy was associated with statistically significant reductions of -1.37, -0.88, -0.84, and -0.80 points in the general cognitive index, quantitative, verbal, and memory components respectively. The association between prenatal DDE and the quantitative component was weaker at 42 months than at older ages. No significant statistical interactions with sex or breastfeeding were observed. These findings support the hypothesis that prenatal DDE impairs early child neurodevelopment; the potential for adverse effects on development should be considered when using DDT for malaria control.