Persistent organic pollutants measured in maternal serum and offspring neurodevelopmental outcomes: A prospective study with long-term follow-up

M Strom, S Hansen, SF Olsen, LS Haug, P Rantakokko, H Kiviranta, TI Halldorsson

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81 Citations (Scopus)


Fetal exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) has been linked to adverse neurodevelopment, but few studies have had follow-up beyond childhood.

The purpose of this study was to examine the association of maternal serum concentrations of two perfluoroalkyl acids (perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS)), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (p,p′-DDE) and hexachlorobenzene (HCB) with offspring behavioural and affective disorders and scholastic achievement in a prebirth cohort study with 20 years of follow up.

Between 1988 and 1989 pregnant women (n = 965) were recruited for the prebirth Danish Fetal Origins 1988 (DaFO88) Cohort in Aarhus, Denmark. Perfluoroalkyl acids, PCBs, p,p′-DDE, and HCB were quantified in serum from week 30 of gestation (n = 876 for perfluoroalkyl acids/872 for PCBs, p,p′-DDE, HCB). Offspring were followed up through national registries until 2011. We evaluated associations between maternal serum concentrations of these POPs and offspring neurodevelopmental outcomes, defined as: first admission diagnosis or prescription of medication until age > 20 for (1) ADHD; (2) depression; and (3) scholastic achievement defined as mean grade on a standardized written examination given in the 9th grade (final exams of compulsory school in Denmark).

Maternal concentrations of organochlorine substances and perfluoroalkyl acids were higher than present day levels. During the follow-up period there were 27 (3.1%) cases of ADHD and 104 (11.9%) cases of depression; the mean scholastic achievement was 6.7 (SD 2.3). Overall we found no association for maternal levels of any of the measured pollutants with offspring behavioural and affective disorders or with scholastic achievement.

Our analyses based on biomarkers from a cohort of over 800 pregnant women with long-term close to complete follow-up through national registries showed little evidence of a programming effect of PFOA, PFOS, PCBs, p,p′-DDE, and HCB in relation to clinically and functionally relevant offspring neurodevelopmental outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-48
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironment International
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Neurodevelopmental outcomes
  • Persistent organic pollutants
  • Long-time follow-up
  • Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Depression
  • Scholastic achievement


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