2002 Progress Report: Prenatal PCB Exposure and Neurodevelopmental Outcomes in Adolescence and Adulthood

EPA Grant Number: R827039C004
Subproject: this is subproject number 004 , 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: Prenatal PCB Exposure and Neurodevelopmental Outcomes in Adolescence and Adulthood
Investigators: Susser, Ezra , 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
RFA: Centers for Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research (1998) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Children's Health , Health Effects , Health


The original two specific aims of this project have not changed and correspond to the two phases of the project. Briefly restated, the aim of the phase 1 project, is to evaluate the relation of prenatal polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) exposure, to be measured in stored maternal sera, to neurodevelopmental outcomes in adolescence based on neuropsychologic, neurologic, behavioral, and psychiatric assessments performed during a previous study. Subjects are a sub-cohort 162 African-Americans from the Collaborative Perinatal Project (CPP) cohort enrolled at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center (CPMC). The aim of the phase 2 project is to evaluate the relation of prenatal PCB exposure to neurodevelopmental outcomes at age 39 and over the life course through that age in the same sub-cohort studied in phase 1. Outcomes will be measured by tracing and recruiting subjects to undergo an examination battery designed based on findings from the phase 1 study.

Progress Summary:

Analyses of the relation of prenatal PCB exposure and IQ measures at age 4, 7 and 17 are essentially complete and were summarized in the previous progress report. Briefly, the sum of 4 relatively abundant congeners, BZ118, 138, 153, 180, was highly correlated with total HPCB levels, and was used as a proxy for HPCB to avoid the analytic complications of using values below detection for less abundant congeners. As indicated in the attached paper, submitted for publication, we found small, statistically significant, deficits in full scale and performance IQ after adjustment for potentially confounding variables.

We are currently exploring the associations between the exposure measures and birthweight, birth length and linear growth at ages 4, 7 and 17. Preliminary analyses indicate small, non-statistically significant inverse associations between exposure and the outcomes. We are now expanding upon these findings using multivariate GEE modeling to explore the shapes of the growth curves.

We are in the process of obtaining IRB approval for the follow up of the boys. This follow up will consist of the following:

  1. A questionnaire to obtain data on demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, and an interval health history. The SES portion is being developed by Dr. Luisa Borrell under a minority supplement to this grant.
  2. A neuropsychological test battery. We propose a battery similar to the one administered at age 17, so that the appropriate GEE analyses can be performed. Accordingly, the following will be administered:
    1. The Paired Associates Learning Test (learning and recall)
    2. The Continuous Performance Task
    3. Trailmaking Test, form A and B
    4. The Cancellation Tests
    5. Reaction Time
    6. Peabody Individual Achievement Tests: Mathematics, Reading Comprehension and Spelling
    7. Wechsler Adult Intelligence Test — Revised (this is a newer version than the one originally administered)
    8. Wide Range Achievement Test — Reading
  3. Anthropometric measurements.

Results of the phase 1 study of this cohort have shown an inverse relation between maternal serum PCB levels and the IQ of offspring measured at ages 4, 7, and 17. Prior results showed this cohort experienced prenatal PCB exposures at levels comparable to those in other cohorts in which relations to impaired neurodevelopment were observed. However, this is the first study of which we are aware to examine this relationship in inner city, African-American population. Our results are only partially consistent with that of Jacobsen et al. who found an inverse relation of in utero PCB exposure to IQ at age 11 in a more socially advantaged cohort. In that study, a stronger impact on verbal ability was seen whereas we found PCB exposure more strongly related to performance IQ. Thus far we have found no strong evidence in this population that the level of prenatal exposure to any individual PCB congener is a better indicator of the risk of neurodevelopmental toxicity than is total HPCB.

Previous studies are conflicting as to the associations between PCB exposure and birth weight, and length and few have considered the associations with growth in childhood. The analyses in progress will provide unique data on the growth trajectories of children exposed to PCBs.

Finally, few studies have considered the associations between prenatal exposures and outcomes in adults. Our data is unique in that we can assess both the associations between prenatal exposures and adult outcomes and determine whether mediating variables (e.g. educational attainment) influence the associations.

Future Activities:

After laboratory-related delays in completing the PCB assays and phase 1 data analysis, we are now preparing manuscripts and have begun planning for the phase 2 study. We are currently obtaining IRB approval, training staff in the location and recruitment of subjects, and training staff on the administration of the neuropsychologic battery.

Journal Articles on this Report : 2 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other subproject views: All 4 publications 2 publications in selected types All 2 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 Berkowitz GS, Wolff MS, Matte T, Susser E, Landrigan PJ. The rationale for a national prospective cohort study of environmental exposure and childhood development. Environmental Research 2001;85(2):59-68. R827039 (2002)
R827039C004 (2002)
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Abstract: Environmental Research Abstract
  • Other: Science Direct PDF
  • Journal Article Berkowitz GS, Obel J, Deych E, Lapinski R, Godbold J, Liu Z, Landrigan PJ, Wolff MS. Exposure to indoor pesticides during pregnancy in a multiethnic, urban cohort. Environmental Health Perspectives 2003;111(1):79-84. R827039 (2002)
    R827039C004 (2002)
    R831711 (2004)
    R831711 (2005)
    R831711 (2006)
    R831711 (2007)
    R831711 (Final)
    R831711C001 (2006)
    R831711C002 (2006)
    R831711C003 (2006)
  • Full-text from PubMed
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Other: EBSCO Host Connection - Abstract
  • Supplemental Keywords:

    RFA, Health, Scientific Discipline, Toxics, Environmental Chemistry, Health Risk Assessment, Epidemiology, pesticides, Risk Assessments, Susceptibility/Sensitive Population/Genetic Susceptibility, Biochemistry, Children's Health, genetic susceptability, health effects, pesticide exposure, sensitive populations, health risks, exposure, PCBs, biological response, neurodevelopment, children, Human Health Risk Assessment, neurotoxicity, human exposure, pesticide residues, assessment of exposure, growth and development, neurodevelopmental toxicity, exposure pathways, harmful environmental agents, environmental health hazard, dietary exposure, growth & development, developmental disorders, exposure assessment, neurological development

    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