2002 Progress Report: Exposure to Indoor Pesticides and PCBs and their Effects on Growth and Neurodevelopment in Urban Children

EPA Grant Number: R827039C002
Subproject: this is subproject number 002 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R827039
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: Mount Sinai Center for Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research
Center Director: Wolff, Mary S.
Title: Exposure to Indoor Pesticides and PCBs and their Effects on Growth and Neurodevelopment in Urban Children
Investigators: Berkowitz, Gertrud S. , Matte, Thomas , Wolff, Mary S.
Institution: Mount Sinai School of Medicine
EPA Project Officer: Callan, Richard
Project Period: August 1, 1998 through July 31, 2003 (Extended to July 31, 2004)
Project Period Covered by this Report: August 1, 2001 through July 31, 2002
Project Amount: Refer to main center abstract for funding details.
RFA: Centers for Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research (1998) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Health Effects , Children's Health , Health


Two epidemiologic research projects seek to determine whether pesticides and PCBs have adverse effects on the neurological development of children in the inner city and whether these effects are still evident in adult life. The first of two epidemiologic investigations, closely linked to the Prevention Research Project, is a prospective study of neurodevelopment and health outcomes in relation to antenatal exposures to PCB, chlorpyrifos and other environmental toxicants as well as diet in an ethnically diverse birth cohort of New York City infants delivered at Mount Sinai Hospital. The second epidemiologic investigation is a retrospective cohort study of the relationship between prenatal exposure to polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs) and neurodevelopmental outcomes in adolescence and adulthood. It will be undertaken in 162 young African American men, now in their 20's and 30's, who have been followed through childhood and adolescence. Their cognitive ability and other domains of neuropsychological status will be re-evaluated in this project. Pre-natal maternal serum samples have been safely stored and will be used to assess pre-natal PCB exposure.

The specific aims of the study are:

  1. To assess in a minority urban cohort of mothers and their children relationships between pre- and postnatal indoor exposures to pesticides, particularly chlorpyrifos, and childhood mental and psychomotor development.
  2. To evaluate associations of maternal serum PCB levels with intrauterine growth, neonatal muscle tone, and reflexes and childhood development.

Progress Summary:

The study is progressing well. A total of 479 prenatal women have been recruited to date. Of these, 219 are Hispanic, 163 are African-American, and 97 are Caucasian. Sixty-nine of these women have been excluded from this study because of medical complications, terminations of pregnancies, very premature births, not being able to collect specimens from the women before having their babies, delivery of an infant with birth defects, change of residence, or refusal to continue to participate. There have been 433 samples of maternal blood and 434 samples of maternal urine collected. In addition, 431 questionnaires and 395 maternal language assessments (Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test) have been administered. There have been 432 births. To date, 317 Brazelton Assessments have been conducted on the newborns. Brazelton Assessments have not been completed on all births for reasons such as: the child being in the NICU or the patients being discharged over the weekend.

Lead measurements for the cord blood are also being performed. To date, 239 samples of cord blood have been collected. The remaining 185 subjects for whom cord blood was not collected are having their third trimester maternal blood tested for lead. Furthermore, we are also collecting buccal swabs from those children missing cord bloods to analyze genetic polymorphisms involved in the metabolism of chlorpyrifos.

To date, we have performed 193 one and 178 two-year assessments, which include administration of a follow-up questionnaire, the HOME inventory, and the Bayley Scales of Infant Development. Urine is collected from the infant at the follow-up visits, except in instances when the child does not urinate or the urine bag leaks. To date, we have obtained 152 urine samples.

We have stopped recruitment as of March 2002, in order to complete the follow-up assessments within the budgeted time period.

Analysis of chlorpyrifos (TCPy), phenoxybenzoic acid (PBA) (a pyrethroid), and pentochlorophenol (PCP) (a wood preservative) has been completed. The Centers for Disease Control are currently finalizing a more comprehensive analysis of organophosphates and pyrethroids in our samples.

Analysis of pesticide questionnaire items as well as maternal urinary metabolite levels among 386 women showed that exposure to indoor pesticides is considerable in this study population. The proportion of women estimated from questionnaire data as having been exposed during the pregnancy to indoor pesticides was greater than 70%. Urinary metabolite levels of TCPy (chlorpyrifos), phenoxybenzoic acid, and pentachlorophenol tended to be higher than those reported in previous studies of adults in the U.S. Assessments of sociodemographic and building characteristics with questionnaire data and the metabolite levels revealed no consistent trends. It is of interest that the metabolites did not differ significantly among Caucasians, African-Americans, and Hispanics. Significant temporal variations, however, were observed for urinary PBA but not TCPy or PCP. The temporal variations for PBA were consistent with seasonal spraying of pyrethroid pesticides. These data underscore the need to assess the potentially adverse effects of pesticide exposure on fetuses and infants and the importance of finding alternative methods for pest management in order to reduce pesticide exposure.

We have also essentially completed analysis of the relationships among pesticide exposure, paraoxonase (PON) polymorphisms and activity, and fetal indices of growth and gestational age. No significant associations were seen between pesticide exposure and pregnancy outcome. However, when PON activity was taken into account, maternal levels of TCPy above detection and low maternal PON activity were associated with a significant reduction in head circumference in the infant. Furthermore, this association was stronger in female than in male infants. The association with PON activity is consistent with the fact that the PON gene is responsible for detoxification of chlorpyrifos. The findings are also of importance as small head size has been found to be predictive of subsequent cognitive functioning.

Future Activities:

During the next year, we plan to complete the one and two year follow-up visits. To date, we have performed both follow-ups on 178 participants. Thus we need to undertake follow-up assessments on 232 children. The analysis of the questionnaire data, the pesticide urinary metabolites, pregnancy outcomes and Brazelton assessments is being completed. These data will be presented at upcoming meetings and additional manuscripts are in preparation.

Journal Articles on this Report : 5 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other subproject views: All 8 publications 6 publications in selected types All 5 journal articles
Other center views: All 32 publications 26 publications in selected types All 25 journal articles
Type Citation Sub Project Document Sources
Journal Article Gore AC. Environmental toxicant effects on neuroendocrine function. Endocrine 2001;14(2):235-246. R827039 (2002)
R827039C002 (2002)
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Journal Article Gore AC. Organochlorine pesticides directly regulate gonadotropin-releasing hormone gene expression and biosynthesis in the GT1-7 hypothalamic cell line. Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology 2002;192(1-2):157-170. R827039 (2002)
    R827039C002 (2002)
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Journal Article Gore AC, Wu TJ, Oung T, Lee JB, Woller MJ. A novel mechanism for endocrine-disrupting effects of polychlorinated biphenyls: direct effects on gonadotropin-releasing hormone neurones. Journal of Neuroendocrinology 2002;14(10):814-823. R827039 (2002)
    R827039C002 (2002)
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Journal Article Landrigan PJ, Claudio L, Markowitz SB, Berkowitz GS, Brenner BL, Romero H, Wetmur JG, Matte TD, Gore AC, Godbold JH, Wolff MS. Pesticides and inner-city children:exposures, risks, and prevention. Environmental Health Perspectives 1999;107(Supplement 3):431-437. R827039 (2002)
    R827039C002 (2002)
    R827039C003 (2000)
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Full-text: Environmental Health Perspectives Full Text
  • Journal Article Salama J, Chakraborty TR, Ng L, Gore AC. Effects of polychlorinated biphenyls on estrogen receptor-β expression in the anteroventral periventricular nucleus. Environmental Health Perspectives 2003;111(10):1278-1282. R827039 (2002)
    R827039C002 (2002)
    R831711 (2005)
    R831711 (2006)
    R831711 (2007)
    R831711 (Final)
    R831711C001 (2006)
    R831711C002 (2006)
    R831711C003 (2006)
  • Full-text from PubMed
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Associated PubMed link
  • Supplemental Keywords:

    RFA, Scientific Discipline, Health, Environmental Chemistry, Health Risk Assessment, Endocrine Disruptors - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Environmental Microbiology, endocrine disruptors, Risk Assessments, Susceptibility/Sensitive Population/Genetic Susceptibility, Biochemistry, Children's Health, genetic susceptability, Endocrine Disruptors - Human Health, health effects, sensitive populations, biological response, PCBs, neurodevelopment, endocrine disrupting chemicals, children, Human Health Risk Assessment, neurodevelopmental, reproductive development, neurotoxicity, assessment of exposure, human exposure, neurodevelopmental toxicity, environmental health hazard, harmful environmental agents, environmentally caused disease, human susceptibility, growth & development, developmental disorders, environmental hazard exposures

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • 1999
  • 2000 Progress Report
  • 2001
  • 2003
  • Final

  • Main Center Abstract and Reports:

    R827039    Mount Sinai Center for Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R827039C001 Growing Up Healthy in East Harlem
    R827039C002 Exposure to Indoor Pesticides and PCBs and their Effects on Growth and Neurodevelopment in Urban Children
    R827039C003 Genetics of Chlorpyrifos Risk in Minority Populations
    R827039C004 Prenatal PCB Exposure and Neurodevelopmental Outcomes in Adolescence and Adulthood
    R827039C005 Neuroendocrine Mechanisms of Environmental Toxicants: PCBs and Pesticides