(HealthDay News) – Both prenatal and childhood exposures to polybrominated diphenyl ether flame retardants (PBDEs) are linked to adverse effects on child neurobehavioral development, according to a study published online Nov. 15 in Environmental Health Perspectives.

Brenda Eskenazi, PhD, from the University of California at Berkeley, and colleagues analyzed data from 323 children at age 5 years and 310 children at age 7 years, participating in CHAMACOS, a California birth cohort, to examine the association of PBDE concentrations with children’s attention, motor functioning, and cognition.

The researchers found that, based on continuous performance task at age 5, maternal prenatal PBDE concentrations were associated with impaired attention. Based on maternal report at age 5 and 7, maternal PBDE concentrations were also linked to poorer fine motor coordination, particularly in the non-dominant hand at both age points, and with decrements in Verbal and Full-Scale IQ at age 7. Concentrations of PBDE at age 7 were significantly or marginally associated with concurrent teacher reports of attention problems and decrements in Processing Speed, Perceptual Reasoning, Verbal Comprehension, and Full Scale IQ. Adjustment for birth weight, gestational age, or maternal thyroid hormone levels did not alter these associations.

“In conclusion, this study’s finding of significant associations of both maternal prenatal and childhood PBDE exposures with poorer attention, fine motor coordination, and cognition in early school age children contributes to the growing evidence of adverse associations between PBDE exposure and children’s neurobehavioral development,” the authors write.

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