BACKGROUND: The prenatal period is a period of vulnerability during which neurotoxic exposures exert persistent changes in brain development and behavior. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), used as flame retardants in commercial products, are known to be developmental neurotoxicants. PBDEs were phased out of use in the United States a decade ago, but exposure remains widespread due to their release from existing products and biopersistence. Despite consistent animal and epidemiological evidence of developmental neurotoxicity, the neural substrates linking prenatal PBDE serum concentrations to impaired neurodevelopment are poorly understood.
METHODS: In the present study, we used resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine associations between prenatal PBDE concentrations measured in maternal serum and intrinsic functional network organization (i.e., global and local efficiency; estimated using a graph-theoretical approach) in 5-year-old children (n = 34). We explored whether PBDE serum concentrations were associated with executive functioning (EF) assessed using a parent-report questionnaire (BRIEF-P) (n = 106) and whether changes in intrinsic functional network organization linked the association between prenatal PBDE serum concentrations and EF problems.
RESULTS: Children with higher prenatal PBDE serum concentrations showed: (a) increased global efficiency of brain areas involved in visual attention (e.g., inferior occipital gyrus) (β's = .01, FDR-corrected p's ≤ .05); (b) more reported EF problems (β's = .001, FDR-corrected p's ≤ .05). Higher global efficiency of brain areas involved in visual attention was associated with more EF problems (β's = .01, FDR-corrected p's < .05).
CONCLUSIONS: Intrinsic functional network organization of visual attention brain areas linked prenatal PBDE concentrations to EF problems in childhood. Visual attention may contribute to the development of higher-order cognitive functions, such as EF, which could be explored in future studies.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||11|
|Journal||Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines|
|State||Published - Sep 2019|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors are grateful to Stephen Dashnaw for providing his MRI expertise and Lori Hoepner for her contribution to data management. This study was supported by funding from the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (R00 ES020364, R21 ES016610, and P30ES023515) and the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (Rubicon grant awarded to Erik de Water). The findings in this article are the opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The authors declare no competing financial interests. Use of trade names is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by the CDC, the Public Health Service, or the US Department of Health and Human Services. The authors have declared that they have no competing or potential conflicts of interest.
© 2019 Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health
- executive functioning
- flame retardants
- resting state fMRI