Maternal occupational exposure to chemicals and child cognitive function

Jennifer Ish, Elaine Symanski, David Gimeno Ruiz de Porras, Maribel Casas, George L. Delclos, Mònica Guxens, Jesús M. Ibarluzea, Carmen Iñiguez, Aitana Lertxundi, Marisa Rebagliato, Michael D. Swartz, Kristina W. Whitworth*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Limited data exist regarding child neurodevelopment in relation to maternal occupational exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). Methods: We included 1058 mother–child pairs from the INfancia y Medio Ambiente (INMA) project (2003–2008). Using a job-exposure matrix, exposure probability scores for ten EDC groups were assigned to each mother based on her longest held job during pregnancy. At the child’s 5-year visit, the McCarthy Scales of Children’s Abilities was administered, yielding the general cognitive index and scales for specific cognitive domains. We analyzed region-specific associations between EDC exposures and each outcome separately using adjusted linear regression and combined region-specific effect estimates using random-effects meta-analyses. Results: Approximately 24% of women were exposed to at least one EDC group, but exposure to most individual EDC groups was low (<5%). Maternal organic solvent exposure was associated with lower quantitative scores among children (−5.8 points, 95% confidence interval: −11.0, −0.5). Though statistically non-significant, exposures to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, phthalates, alkylphenolic compounds, and miscellaneous chemicals were associated with poorer offspring performance for most or all cognitive domains. Conclusions: This study found limited evidence for a role of maternal occupational EDC exposures on child cognition. Further research is needed to better characterize exposures among pregnant workers. Impact: Using data from a prospective birth cohort, we help fill an important research gap regarding the potential consequences of work-related exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) among pregnant women on child neurodevelopment.We expand on existing literature—largely limited to pesticide and organic solvent exposures—by using a job-exposure matrix to estimate exposure to several EDC groups.We found limited evidence of an association between maternal occupational EDC exposure and children’s overall cognition.We did observe specific associations between exposure to organic solvents and lower quantitative reasoning scores.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1153-1160
Number of pages8
JournalPediatric Research
Issue number4
Early online date16 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (R01ES028842), Instituto de Salud Carlos III (Red INMA G03/176, CB06/02/0041; FIS-FEDER: PI03/1615, PI04/1509, PI04/1112, PI04/1931, PI05/1079, PI05/1052, PI06/0867, PI06/1213, PI07/0314, PI09/02647, PI11/01007, PI11/02591, PI11/02038, PI13/1944, PI13/2032, PI14/00891, PI14/01687, PI16/1288, PI17/00663, FIS-PI18/01142 incl. FEDER funds; Miguel Servet-FEDER CP11/00178, CP15/00025, CPII16/00051, CPII18/00018, and CP16/00128), Generalitat de Catalunya-CIRIT 1999SGR 00241, EU Commission (FP7-ENV-2011 cod 282957 and HEALTH.2010.2.4.5-1), Generalitat Valenciana: FISABIO (UGP 15-230, UGP-15-244, and UGP-15-249) and Conselleria d’Educació AICO/2020/285, and Alicia Koplowitz Foundation 2017, Department of Health of the Basque Government (2005111093), Provincial Government of Gipuzkoa (DFG06/002), and annual agreements with the municipalities of the study area (Zumarraga, Urretxu, Legazpi, Azkoitia y Azpeitia y Beasain). We also acknowledge support from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation and the State Research Agency through the “Centro de Excelencia Severo Ochoa 2019-2023” Program (CEX2018-000806-S), and support from the Generalitat de Catalunya through the CERCA Program. J.I., D.G.R.d.P., and G.L.D. are partly supported by the Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (SWCOEH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Education and Research Center (T42OH008421) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health. K.W.W. and E.S. are supported in part by the by the Gulf Coast Center for Precision Environmental Health (GC-CPEH) at Baylor College of Medicine (P30ES030285).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to the International Pediatric Research Foundation, Inc.


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