Behavioural disorders in 6-year-old children and pyrethroid insecticide exposure: the PELAGIE mother–child cohort

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Abstract

Objective

The potential impact of environmental exposure to pyrethroid insecticides on child neurodevelopment has only just started to receive attention despite their widespread use. We investigated the associations between prenatal and childhood exposure to pyrethroid insecticides and behavioural skills in 6-year-olds.

Methods

The PELAGIE cohort enrolled 3421 pregnant women from Brittany, France between 2002 and 2006. 428 mothers were randomly selected for the study when their children turned 6, and 287 (67%) agreed to participate. Children's behaviour was assessed using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). Three subscales (prosocial behaviour, internalising disorders and externalising disorders) were considered. Five pyrethroid metabolites were measured in maternal and child urine samples collected between 6 and 19 gestational weeks and at 6 years of age, respectively. Logistic regression and reverse-scale Cox regression models were used to estimate the associations between SDQ scores and urinary pyrethroid metabolite concentrations, adjusting for organophosphate metabolite concentrations and potential confounders.

Results

Increased prenatal cis-3-(2,2-dichlorovinyl)-2,2-dimethylcyclopropane carboxylic acid (DCCA) concentrations were associated with internalising difficulties (Cox p value=0.05). For childhood 3-phenoxybenzoic acid (PBA) concentrations, a positive association was observed with externalising difficulties (Cox p value=0.04) and high ORs were found for abnormal or borderline social behaviour (OR 2.93, 95% CI 1.27 to 6.78, and OR 1.91, 95% CI 0.80 to 4.57, for the intermediate and highest metabolite categories, respectively). High childhood trans-DCCA concentrations were associated with reduced externalising disorders (Cox p value=0.03).

Conclusions

The present study suggests that exposure to certain pyrethroids, at environmental levels, may negatively affect neurobehavioral development by 6 years of age.

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