Prenatal exposure to a wide range of environmental chemicals and child behaviour between 3 and 7 years of age - An exposome-based approach in 5 European cohorts

P. Jedynak*, L. Maitre, M. Guxens, K.B. Gutzkow, J. Julvez, M. Lopez-Vicente, J. Sunyer, M. Casas, L. Chatzi, R. Grazuleviciene, M. Kampouri, R. McEachan, M. Mon-Williams, I. Tamayo, C. Thomsen, J. Urquiza, M. Vafeiadi, J. Wright, X. Basagana, M. VrijheidC. Philippat

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Studies looking at associations between environmental chemicals and child behaviour usually consider only one exposure or family of exposures.Objective: This study explores associations between prenatal exposure to a wide range of environmental chemicals and child behaviour.Methods: We studied 703 mother-child pairs from five European cohorts recruited in 2003-2009 We assessed 47 exposure biomarkers from eight chemical exposure families in maternal blood or urine collected during pregnancy. We used the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) to evaluate child behaviour between three and seven years of age. We assessed associations of SDQ scores with exposures using an adjusted least absolute shrinkage and selection operator (LASSO) considering all exposures simultaneously and an adjusted exposome-wide association study (ExWAS) considering each exposure independently.Results: LASSO selected only copper (Cu) as associated with externalizing behaviour. In the ExWAS, bisphenol A [BPA, incidence rate ratio (IRR): 1.06, 95% confidence interval (95%CI): 1.01; 1.12] and mono-n-butyl phthalate (MnBP, IRR: 1.06, 95%CI: 1.00; 1.13) were associated with greater risk of externalizing behaviour problems. Cu (IRK: 0.90, 95%CI: 0.82; 0.98), perfluoroundecanoate (PFUnDA, IRR: 0.92, 95%CI: 0.84;0.99) and organochlorine compounds (OCs) were associated with lower risk of externalizing behaviour problems, however the associations with OCs were mainly seen among women with insufficient weight gain during pregnancy. Internalizing score worsen in association with exposure to diethyl thiophosphate (DETP, IRR: 1.11, 95%CI: 1.00;124) but the effect was driven by the smallest cohort. Internalizing score improved with increased concentration of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS, IRR: 0.92, 95%CI: 0.85;1.00), however the association was driven by the two smallest cohorts with the lowest PFOS concentrations.Discussion: This study added evidence on deleterious effects of prenatal exposure to BPA and MnBP on child behaviour. Other associations should be interpreted cautiously since they were not consistent with previous studies or they have not been studied extensively. (C) 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Article number144115
Number of pages10
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2021


  • birth cohort
  • bisphenol-a exposure
  • child behaviour
  • copper
  • developmental neurotoxicity
  • hyperactivity
  • imputation
  • inner-city children
  • internal exposome
  • neuropsychological development
  • organophosphate pesticide exposure
  • persistent organic pollutants
  • prenatal exposure
  • strengths and difficulties questionnaire
  • variable selection
  • Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire
  • Internal exposome
  • Child behaviour
  • Birth cohort
  • Prenatal exposure


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