Perfluorooctanoate and perfluorooctane sulfonate in umbilical cord blood and child cognitive development: Hamamatsu Birth Cohort for Mothers and Children (HBC Study)

By Jiwon Oh, Hyeong-Moo Shin, Tomoko Nishimura, Mohammad Shafiur Rahman, Nagahide Takahashi, and Kenji J Tsuchiya
Environ Int
April 6, 2022
DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2022.107215


Prenatal exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) has been shown to affect offspring behaviors in laboratory animals. Several epidemiological studies investigated associations between prenatal PFAS exposure and child neurodevelopment, but results were inconclusive. We examined associations between cord blood concentrations of perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and cognitive development in children from 4 to 40 months of age.


This study included 598 mother-child pairs who participated in the Hamamatsu Birth Cohort Study for Mothers and Children (HBC Study), a prospective birth cohort study in Japan. PFOA and PFOS were quantified in cord blood. The Mullen Scales of Early Learning (MSEL) was used to assess child cognitive function at 4, 6, 10, 14, 18, 24, 32, and 40 months of age. For each of log 2-transformed PFOA and PFOS concentrations, we examined: 1) associations with the scores of MSEL Early Learning Composite (Composite) and four subscales (Fine Motor, Visual Reception, Receptive Language, Expressive Language) at each assessment time point; and 2) associations with longitudinal changes in the Composite and subscale scores.


MSEL Composite scores were inversely associated with PFOA at 18 months of age (per 2-fold increase in concentration: β = -2.23, 95% CI: -3.91, -0.56), but not at other ages. When accounting for changes in scores from 4 to 40 months of age, PFOA and PFOS were positively associated with Composite as well as Receptive and Expressive Language scores. Child's sex modified associations between PFOA and Composite scores at 14, 18, and 40 months and those between PFOS and Composite scores at 14 months, showing negative associations among females.


In this study, cord blood PFOA and PFOS concentrations showed mixed associations with child cognitive functions at specific age but had positive associations with longitudinal changes in cognitive development from 4 to 40 months of age.

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