Send to

Choose Destination
Environ Health Perspect. 2017 Apr;125(4):684-690. doi: 10.1289/EHP39. Epub 2016 Oct 14.

Prenatal Exposure to Glycol Ethers and Neurocognitive Abilities in 6-Year-Old Children: The PELAGIE Cohort Study.

Author information

INSERM (Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale) U1085-IRSET, University Rennes 1, Rennes, France.



Glycol ethers (GE) are widely used organic solvents. Despite the potential neurotoxicity of several families of organic solvents, little is known about the impact of GE on the neurodevelopment of infants and children.


We investigated the relation between urinary concentrations of GE metabolites in pregnant women and neurocognitive abilities in their 6-year-old children in the PELAGIE mother-child cohort.


Five GE metabolites were measured in first morning void urine samples of 204 French pregnant women in early pregnancy (< 19 weeks of gestation). Psychologists assessed the neurocognitive abilities of their 6-year-old children with the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children IV (WISC) and the Developmental Neuropsychological Assessment (NEPSY). We analyzed the results with linear (WISC) and Poisson regression models (NEPSY), adjusted for potential confounders, including child's stimulation at home.


GE metabolites were detected in 90-100% of maternal urine samples. The WISC Verbal Comprehension score was significantly lower for children with the highest tertile of urinary phenoxyacetic acid (PhAA) [β (third vs. first tertile) = -6.53; 95% CI: -11.44, -1.62]. Similarly, the NEPSY Design Copying subtest score was lower in those with the highest tertile of urinary ethoxyacetic acid (EAA) [β (third vs. first tertile) = -0.11; 95% CI: -0.21, 0.00]. The other GE metabolites we studied were not significantly associated with WISC or NEPSY scores.


Prenatal urine concentrations of two GE metabolites were associated with lower WISC Verbal Comprehension Index scores and NEPSY Design Copying subscale scores, respectively, at age 6 years. PhAA is the primary metabolite of 2-phenoxyethanol (EGPhE), which is commonly found in cosmetics, and precursors of EAA are frequently used in cleaning agents. Additional research is needed to confirm our findings and further explore potential effects of prenatal GE exposures on neurocognitive performance in children.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center