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Prenatal exposure for endocrine disrupting chemicals and its importance for child neurodevelopment

Participants: Maria Marinopoulou, Maria Unenge Hallerbäck & Eva Billstedt

The endocrine system is of greatest importance for a healthy development - from the time of conception until death - for both animals and humans. It is therefore of global concern that the entire human population, foetuses, infants, children and adults, are constantly exposed to low levels of anthropogenic chemicals, some of which are endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that may interact with our natural endocrine functions with adverse health effects as result. Exposure to EDCs during windows of susceptibility during fetal development, even at low doses and in complex mixtures, is of particular concern for developmental programming and trans-generational effects on the proteome, transcriptome and epigenome. These changes underlie disorders that may manifest in adult life and contribute to a multitude of chronic diseases.

The current study, which is Maria Marinopoulou's doctoral project, is part of the SELMA study aiming to determine the strength of associations between prenatal exposures to EDCs and 7-year neurodevelopmental outcomes. The SELMA study  is a population-based, longitudinal pregnancy cohort study being conducted in the county of Värmland (Bornehag et al.,2012). The study is investigating the impact of prenatal and postnatal exposure for EDCs – both as single compounds and as mixtures – for health outcomes and development in four different domains in children including sexual development, neurodevelopment and behavior, metabolism and growth, and asthma and allergy, and also examines modes of action including inflammation and epigenetic mechanisms. SELMA is currently following 1,951 mother-child pairs from 1st trimester of pregnancy over birth and up in school age. Within SELMA we are examining both non-persistent organic compounds and persistent organic pollutants, all with documented EDC properties, known as additives in materials of common consumer products, known to occur in the general environment and detected in humans globally. All these compounds or metabolites of them can be analysed in human fluids.

The aims of the current study are to examine if prenatal exposure to EDCs is associated with deficits in children’s cognitive function, sensorimotor function, social interaction impairments at age 7 years, and to examine whether sex modifies the associations found.

Active SELMA-participants (n=1,951) are invited to the follow-up study of the children at age 7. Neuropsychological tests and questionnaires will be used to capture child neurodevelopment. Data on EDC exposure has been collected and sampled during pregnancy, birth and infancy/childhood period through biological sampling of blood and urine from the pregnant women and the infant/child. Information on modifying factors has been gathered by questionnaires during the mother’s pregnancy (week 10 and 25) and annual questionnaire to the family after birth, and by access to the mother’s and child’s medical records.

Principal supervisor for this doctoral project is Professor Eva Billstedt (Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre). Assistant supervisors are M.D., PhD Maria Unenge Hallerbäck (County Council of Värmland and Department of Health Sciences, Karlstad University) and Professor Carl-Gustaf Bornehag (Department of Health Sciences, Karlstad University), principal investigator for the SELMA-study.

Page Manager: Anna Spyrou|Last update: 8/29/2017

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