We sought to determine whether prenatal co-exposure to As, Cd, Hg, Mn, and Pb was associated with impaired neurodevelopment in preschool children from the Spanish Environment and Childhood (INMA) Project, using the placenta as exposure matrix. We measured metal levels in placenta tissue samples randomly selected from five of the seven population-based birth cohorts participating in the INMA Project, collected between 2000 and 2008. Neuropsychological assessment of cognitive and motor function was carried through the use of the McCarthy Scales of Children's Abilities (MSCA) at the age of 4–5 years. Data on placental metal levels, MSCA scores, and relevant covariates was available for 302 children. Mn was detected in all placental samples, Cd in nearly all placentas (99%) and As, Hg, and Pb in 22%, 58%, and 17% of the placentas, respectively. After adjusting for potential confounders, detectable As levels were associated with decrements in global and verbal executive functions and quantitative abilities; detectable Hg was associated with lower scores on the verbal function of posterior cortex in a dose-response manner, and non-linearly related to poorer motor function and gross motor skills; and Mn levels were associated with decrement in perceptual-performance skills in a dose-response manner but with better memory span and quantitative skills. A synergistic interactive effect was found between As and Pb with respect to the general cognitive score, whereas an antagonistic interaction was found between Mn and Hg. Prenatal exposure to As and Hg may be a risk factor for cognitive and motor impairment in children, while the effects of Cd and Mn on neurodevelopment are less clear. Future studies should examine combined and interactive effects of exposure to multiple metals during vulnerable periods of brain development prospectively.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Cognitive function, Metals, Multiple exposure, Neurodevelopment, Placenta
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.11.273, hdl.handle.net/1765/103151
Journal Science of the Total Environment
Freire, C. (Carmen), Amaya, E. (Esperanza), Gil, F. (Fernando), Fernández, M.F, Murcia, M, Llop, S, … Olea, N. (Nicolás). (2018). Prenatal co-exposure to neurotoxic metals and neurodevelopment in preschool children: The Environment and Childhood (INMA) Project. Science of the Total Environment, 621, 340–351. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.11.273