Date: 28 May 2013

Exposure to widespread environmental toxicants and children’s cognitive development and behavioral problems

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Abstract

Nowadays a special attention is focused on prenatal and childhood exposures to a variety of contaminants in the environment, especially toxicants widely present in the environment and their impact on children’s health and neurodevelopment. This article aims at evaluating the impact of exposure to several widespread toxicants including: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), phthalates, bisphenol A, brominated flame retardants and gas cooking on children’s cognitive development and behavioral problems by reviewing most recent published literature. Epidemiological studies focusing on exposure to widespread toxicants and children’s development for the last eleven years were identified by a search of the PubMed, Medline, Ebsco and Toxnet literature bases. The combination of following key words was used: 1) referring to the exposure: pregnancy, prenatal exposure, postnatal exposure, gas cooking, exposure to phthalates, bisphenol A, brominated flame retardants, PAHs and 2) referring to outcome: neurodevelopment, neurobehavior, psychomotor development, behavioral problems, cognitive development, mental health, school achievements, learning abilities. The results from the presented studies suggest that there are strong and rather consistent indications that the developing nervous system is particularly vulnerable to insult from low levels of exposure to widespread environmental contaminants such as: phthalates, bisphenol A, brominated flame retardants, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, gas cooking. Considering the suggested health effects, more epidemiologic data is urgently needed and, in the meantime, precautionary policies must be implemented.

An erratum to this article can be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.2478/s13382-013-0132-0.