BACKGROUND: Prenatal exposures to phthalates and bisphenols are associated with impaired brain development in animals. However, epidemiological studies investigating the association between prenatal phthalate or bisphenol exposure and cognition have produced mixed findings and mostly had modest sample sizes and measured the exposure during the third trimester. OBJECTIVE: We examined the association between pregnancy maternal urinary biomarkers of phthalate or bisphenol exposure and nonverbal intelligence quotient (IQ) in children 6 years of age. METHOD: The study sample consisted of 1,282 mother–child pairs participating in the Generation R Study, a population-based birth cohort in Rotterdam, Netherlands (enrollment 2002–2006). We measured maternal urinary concentrations of 18 phthalate metabolites and 8 bisphenols at <18, 18–25, and >25 wks of gestation. Child nonverbal IQ was measured at 6 years of age using the Snijders-Oomen Nonverbal Intelligence Test– Revised. Linear regression models were fit for each of the three collection phases separately, the three collection phases jointly, and for the averaged prenatal exposure across pregnancy. RESULTS: Higher urinary concentrations of phthalate metabolites during early pregnancy were associated with lower child nonverbal IQ score [e.g., B per 10-fold increase in summed low-molecular weight phthalates = −1:7 (95% CI: −3:1, −0:3)]. This association remained unchanged when adjusted for mid and late pregnancy exposures. We also observed an inverse association between late pregnancy di-n-octyl phthalate (DNOP) exposure and nonverbal IQ. Maternal urinary concentrations of bisphenols were not associated with child nonverbal IQ. There was no effect estimate modification by sex. CONCLUSIONS: We did not observe that maternal biomarkers of bisphenol exposure are associated with nonverbal IQ. We found that phthalate exposure in early pregnancy and DNOP exposure in late pregnancy are associated with lower nonverbal IQ scores in children. Our results might suggest that particularly early pregnancy is a sensitive window of phthalate exposure, but future studies are needed to replicate our findings.

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Journal Environmental Health Perspectives
van den Dries, M.A. (Michiel A.), Guxens Junyent, M, Spaan, S, Ferguson, K.K. (Kelly K.), Philips, E. (Elise), Santos, S. (Susana), … Pronk, A. (2020). Phthalate and bisphenol exposure during pregnancy and offspring nonverbal IQ. Environmental Health Perspectives, 128(7), 1–13. doi:10.1289/EHP6047