The organophosphate insecticide chlorpyrifos (CPF), widely used for agricultural purposes, has been linked to neurodevelopmental deficits. Possible motor effects at low to moderate levels of exposure have not been evaluated.Methods:
Prenatal exposure to CPF was measured in umbilical cord blood in a sample of 263 inner-city minority children, who were followed prospectively. At approximately 11 years of age (mean age 10.9 ± 0.85 years, range = 9.0–13.9), during a neuropsychological assessment, children were asked to draw Archimedes spirals. These were rated by a senior neurologist specializing in movement disorders who was blind to CPF exposure level.Results:
Compared to all other children, those with prenatal CPF exposure in the upper quartile range (n = 43) were more likely to exhibit mild or mild to moderate tremor (≥1) in either arm (p = 0.03), both arms (p = 0.02), the dominant arm (p = 0.01), and the non-dominant arm (p = 0.055). Logistic regression analyses showed significant CPF effects on tremor in both arms, either arm, the dominant arm (p-values <0.05), and the non-dominant arm (p = 0.06), after adjustment for sex, age at testing, ethnicity, and medication.Conclusion:
Prenatal CPF exposure is associated with tremor in middle childhood, which may be a sign of the insecticide's effects on nervous system function.