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In-Utero Exposure to Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane and Cognitive Development Among Infants and School-aged Children

Jusko, Todd A.a; Klebanoff, Mark A.b; Brock, John W.c; Longnecker, Matthew P.a

doi: 10.1097/EDE.0b013e31825fb61d
In-Utero Exposures

Background: Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) continues to be used for control of infectious diseases in several countries. In-utero exposure to DDT and dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE) has been associated with developmental and cognitive impairment among children. We examined this association in an historical cohort in which the level of exposure was greater than in previous studies.

Methods: The association of in-utero DDT and DDE exposure with infant and child neurodevelopment was examined in 1100 subjects in the Collaborative Perinatal Project, a prospective birth cohort enrolling pregnant women from 12 study centers in the United States from 1959 to 1965. Maternal DDT and DDE concentrations were measured in archived serum specimens. Infant mental and motor development was assessed at age 8 months using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development, and child cognitive development was assessed at age 7 years, using the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children.

Results: Although levels of DDT and DDE were relatively high in this population (median DDT concentration, 8.9 μg/L; DDE, 24.5 μg/L), neither were related to Mental or Psychomotor Development scores on the Bayley Scales nor to Full-Scale Intelligence Quotient at 7 years of age. Categorical analyses showed no evidence of dose- response for either maternal DDT or DDE, and estimates of the association between continuous measures of exposure and neurodevelopment were indistinguishable from 0.

Conclusions: Adverse associations were not observed between maternal serum DDT and DDE concentrations and offspring neurodevelopment at 8 months or 7 years in this cohort.

From the aEpidemiology Branch, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Durham, NC; bDepartment of Pediatrics, The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, OH; and cNational Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA.

Submitted 21 June 2011; accepted 28 November 2011; posted 3 July 2012.

Supported by the Intramural Research Programs of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services.

J.W.B. is currently at Department of Chemistry, Warren Wilson College, Asheville, NC.

The author reported no financial interests related to this research.

Correspondence: Todd A. Jusko, Epidemiology Branch, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, PO Box 12233, MD A3–05, 111 T.W. Alexander Dr, Rall Bldg 101, Durham, NC 27709–2233. E-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.