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Grantee Research Project Results

Grantee Research Project Results

Adolescent Exposure to BPA/Phthalates Cognitive and Behavioral Development

EPA Grant Number: R834593C002
Subproject: this is subproject number 002 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R834593
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: Novel Methods to Assess Effects of Bisphenol A & Phthalates on Child Development
Center Director: Schantz, Susan L.
Title: Adolescent Exposure to BPA/Phthalates Cognitive and Behavioral Development
Investigators: Schantz, Susan L.
Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign , Harvard School of Public Health , Michigan State University
EPA Project Officer: Louie, Nica
Project Period: February 15, 2010 through February 14, 2013
RFA: Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Centers: Formative Centers (with NIEHS) (2009)
Research Category: Children's Health



Despite prevalent population exposure to phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA), and evidence that human neurodevelopment is likely to be altered by their potential disruption of gonadal hormones, there are few, if any, human studies of these exposures and neurodevelopment. Adolescence is a key period of vulnerability to gonadal hormones which profoundly affect not only transition to reproductive maturity, but also adolescent transition to cognitive and behavioral maturity. Underlying this adolescent transition is substantial brain organizational development and growth, including growth in brain regions demonstrating sexual dimorphisms (differences between males and females) likely related to gonadal steroid effects. In fact, brain disorders that typically start in adolescence, e.g. schizophrenia, may, in part, reflect deficient development in these areas. The primary aim of this pilot project is to assess the relation of adolescent exposure to phthalates and BPA with adolescent neurobehavior.


The proposal builds on an ongoing longitudinal study of 788 children who have been followed since birth to assess the relation of early-life contaminant exposures (organochlorine pesticides and metals) with subsequent neurodevelopment. The study will use this parent study's established infrastructure (including adolescent neurobehavioral exams) and wealth of existing data to address 2 new themes: (1) the potential developmental toxicities of adolescent phthalate and BPA exposures, and (2) the identification of adolescent neurobehavioral outcomes likely to be sensitive to these exposures based on: (a) experimental studies of gonadal steroids and brain function, (b) animal or human evidence of sexual dimorphism in performance, or (c) analogy with Project 4's rodent model. New data collection will be urine samples (at adolescence, age 13-15 yrs neurobehavior testing) for measurement of phthalate and BPA metabolites. The relation of these exposures with psychometric measures of: visual motor abilities, verbal abilities, working memory, behaviors related to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and psychiatric symptoms (e.g., depression and anxiety) will be assessed. Secondary aims will be assessment of the potential for associations of phthalates or BPA with neurobehavior to differ by sex or by pubertal status. Comparing this work with Project 4's parallel animal model will, where there is convergence, increase confidence that observed effects are, in fact, exposure related.

Expected Results:

This will be among the first studies to provide insight into the role of these compounds as risk factors for adverse neurodevelopment in adolescence, an age at high risk for exposure effects, and an age when maladaptive neurobehavioral development can be a source of substantial disability.

Supplemental Keywords:

health effects, sensitive populations, genetic polymorphisms, epidemiology, RFA, Health, Scientific Discipline, Environmental Chemistry, Health Risk Assessment, Risk Assessments, Children's Health, biological markers

Main Center Abstract and Reports:
R834593    Novel Methods to Assess Effects of Bisphenol A & Phthalates on Child Development

Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
R834593C001 Prenatal Exposure to BPA/Phthalates: Infant Physical and Behavioral Development
R834593C002 Adolescent Exposure to BPA/Phthalates Cognitive and Behavioral Development
R834593C003 Mechanisms of In Utero BPA Exposure on Fetal Gonad Development
R834593C004 Effects of Bisphenol A on the Developing Cortex

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The perspectives, information and conclusions conveyed in research project abstracts, progress reports, final reports, journal abstracts and journal publications convey the viewpoints of the principal investigator and may not represent the views and policies of ORD and EPA. Conclusions drawn by the principal investigators have not been reviewed by the Agency.

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