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Prenatal exposure to certain pesticides may negatively impact cognitive development in children
Date:4/20/2011

Researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine have found that exposure during pregnancy to a family of pesticides called organophosphates may impair child cognitive development. The findings are published online in Environmental Health Perspectives.

From 1998 to 2002, the Mount Sinai Children's Environmental Health Study enrolled a multiethnic population of more than 400 women in their third trimester of pregnancy. The research team collected urine samples during pregnancy and analyzed them for the evidence of metabolized pesticides. The women were then invited to participate in follow-up interviews when their children were ages 12 months, 24 months, and six to nine years.

At 12 and 24 months the children were assessed using the Bayley Scales of Infant development, which is a standardized instrument that measures cognitive and psychomotor development in young children. Between the ages of six and nine years, the researchers administered skill and intelligence tests. The researchers found that exposure to organophosphates negatively impacted perceptual reasoning, a measure of nonverbal problem-solving skills.

"Manufacturers withdrew chlorpyrifos and diazinon, two types of organophosphate pesticides, from the residential market. Despite this, general population exposure to organophosphate pesticides is ongoing," said Stephanie Engel, PhD, who led the study while on faculty at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

"We have previously reported that prenatal exposure to these pesticides was negatively related to measures of neurobehavioral organization and early markers of central nervous system development in newborns. These new findings show that detrimental effects continue to be seen on cognitive development in early childhood, particularly in subgroups of the population that metabolize these compounds less efficiently," Dr. Engel said.

Dr. Engel's team also examined the influence of variants in a key enzyme that
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Contact: Christie Corbett
newsmedia@mssm.edu
212-241-9200
The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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