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Neurotoxicology. 2010 Jan;31(1):17-25. doi: 10.1016/j.neuro.2009.10.008. Epub 2009 Oct 23.

The relation of environmental contaminants exposure to behavioral indicators in Inuit preschoolers in Arctic Quebec.

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CHUQ Research Center, Québec, QC, Canada.


Although lead (Pb) exposure has been identified as an important risk factor in child behavioral development, less is known regarding the relation between child behavior and exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and mercury (Hg). Inuit children are particularly exposed to these chemicals and the aim of this study was to investigate the association between prenatal and postnatal exposure to Pb, PCBs, Hg and several aspects of behavioral function in Inuit preschoolers. The sample consisted of one hundred and ten 5-year-old Inuit children from Arctic Quebec. An umbilical cord blood sample was used to document prenatal exposure to Pb, PCBs and Hg. Child blood samples were collected at age 5 and the same contaminants were measured. A modified version of the Infant Behavior Rating Scale from the Bayley Scales of Infant Development-II was used to assess child behavior through examiners' ratings. Furthermore, attention, activity and emotional outcomes were assessed through behavioral coding of video recordings taken during fine motor testing. Pb exposure during childhood was associated with examiners ratings of greater impulsivity, irritability and with coding of observed inattention. Prenatal exposure to PCB 153 correlated with the examiners ratings of increased state of unhappiness and anxiety during the testing session, which was corroborated from video coding since cord PCB 153 was related to fewer manifestations of positive affects. No association was found with Hg exposure. These data corroborated those from previous Pb cohort studies and revealed an association between prenatal PCBs exposure and emotional outcomes in preschoolers.

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