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Arch Toxicol. 2015 May;89(5):687-709. doi: 10.1007/s00204-015-1463-3. Epub 2015 Jan 25.

Developmental neurotoxicity of persistent organic pollutants: an update on childhood outcome.

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Division of Neonatology, Department of Pediatrics, Beatrix Children's Hospital, University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, Hanzeplein 1, PO Box 30.001, 9713 GZ, Groningen, The Netherlands,


Organohalogens are persistent organic pollutants that have a wide range of chemical application. There is growing evidence that several of these chemical compounds interfere with human development in various ways. The aim of this review is to provide an update on the relationship between various persistent organic pollutants and childhood neurodevelopmental outcome from studies from the past 10 years. This review focuses on exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), hydroxylated PCBs (OH-PCBs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE), and in addition on exposure to phthalates, bisphenol A, and perfluorinated compounds and their associations with neurodevelopmental outcome in childhood, up to 18 years of age. This review shows that exposure to environmental chemicals affects neurodevelopmental outcome in children. Regarding exposure to PCBs and OH-PCBs, most studies report no or inverse associations with neurodevelopmental outcomes. Regarding exposure to PBDEs, lower mental development, psychomotor development and IQ were found at preschool age, and poorer attention at school age. Regarding exposure to DDE, most studies reported inverse associations with outcome, while others found no associations. Significant relations were particularly found at early infancy on psychomotor development, on attention and ADHD, whereas at school age, no adverse relationships were described. Additionally, several studies report gender-related vulnerability. Future research should focus on the long-term effects of prenatal and childhood exposure to these environmental chemicals, on sex-specific and combined exposure effects of environmental chemicals, and on possible mechanisms by which these chemicals have their effects on neurodevelopmental and behavioral outcomes.

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