In animal studies, perfluorinated compounds affect fetal growth, development, viability, and postnatal growth. The limited epidemiologic findings on child neurobehavioral development are mixed.
We recruited and evaluated 320 children who participated in the C8 Health Project, a 2005–2006 survey in a Mid-Ohio Valley community highly exposed to perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) through contaminated drinking water. We examined associations among estimated in utero PFOA exposure, measured childhood PFOA serum concentration, and subsequent performance on neuropsychological tests 3–4 years later at ages 6–12 years. We assessed Intelligence Quotient (IQ) reading and math skills, language, memory and learning, visual-spatial processing, and attention. All multivariable linear regression models were adjusted for age, sex, home environment, test examiner, and maternal IQ. Models with measured childhood PFOA were additionally adjusted for child body mass index.
Children in the highest as compared with lowest quartile of estimated in utero PFOA had increases in Full Scale IQ (β 4.6, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.7–8.5) and decreases in characteristics of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder as measured by the Clinical Confidence Index of Connors’ Continuous Performance Test–II (β −8.5, 95% CI = −16.1 to −0.8). There were negligible associations between PFOA and reading or math skills or neuropsychological functioning.
These results do not suggest an adverse association between the levels of PFOA exposure experienced by children in this cohort and their performance on neuropsychological tests.