Prenatal exposure to poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and neurobehavior in US children through 8 years of age: the HOME Study
By Ann M Vuong, Glenys M Webster, Kimberly Yolton, Antonia M Calafat, Gina Muckle, Bruce P Lanphear, and Aimin Chen
February 9, 2021
Studies of prenatal poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)-related behaviors in children are inconsistent.
To examine associations between maternal serum PFAS concentrations and child behavior in 241 mother-child dyads within the Health Outcomes and Measures of the Environment (HOME) Study.
We quantified perfluorooctanoate (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS), and perfluorononanoate (PFNA) in maternal serum collected during pregnancy or at delivery. We evaluated a total of 17 outcomes of child behavior using the Behavioral Assessment System for Children-2 (BASC-2) at 5 and 8 years (n=240) and ADHD diagnostic symptoms and criteria with the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children-Young Child (DISC-YC) at 5 years (n=190). We used linear mixed models and logistic regression with generalized estimating equations to assess associations between PFAS and continuous or dichotomous "at risk" BASC-2 scores; negative binomial regression to calculate incident rate ratios for counts of ADHD symptoms; and Poisson regression with robust standard errors to calculate relative risks of meeting ADHD diagnostic criteria.
Each ln-unit increase in PFOS, PFHxS, PFNA was associated with higher BASC-2 scores and increased odds of "at-risk" scores for externalizing behaviors, including hyperactivity (PFOS: odds ratio [OR] 2.7, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.2, 5.9; PFHxS: OR 2.5, 95% CI 1.5, 4.3; PFNA: OR 3.2, 95% CI 1.3, 8.0). PFHxS was also associated with internalizing problems (OR 2.0, 95% CI 1.1, 3.4) and somatization (OR 2.2, 95% CI 1.2, 4.0). PFOS and PFNA were significantly associated with 50-80% more DISC-YC symptoms and diagnostic criteria related to hyperactive-impulsive type and combined-type ADHD. Prenatal PFNA was associated with increased risk of any-type ADHD.
Prenatal PFOS and PFNA were consistently associated with measures related to hyperactive-impulsive type ADHD across two validated assessment instruments. PFHxS was associated with increased problems with both externalizing and internalizing behaviors. No associations were noted between PFOA and child neurobehavior.