Child Psychiatry & Human Development

, Volume 49, Issue 4, pp 534–550 | Cite as

Early Life Characteristics and Neurodevelopmental Phenotypes in the Mount Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center

  • Melissa Furlong
  • Amy H. Herring
  • Barbara D. Goldman
  • Julie L. Daniels
  • Mary S. Wolff
  • Lawrence S. Engel
  • Stephanie M. Engel
Original Article


Neurodevelopmental outcomes including behavior, executive functioning, and IQ exhibit complex correlational structures, although they are often treated as independent in etiologic studies. We performed a principal components analysis of the behavioral assessment system for children, the behavior rating inventory of executive functioning, and the Wechsler scales of intelligence in a prospective birth cohort, and estimated associations with early life characteristics. We identified seven factors: (1) impulsivity and externalizing, (2) executive functioning, (3) internalizing, (4) perceptual reasoning, (5) adaptability, (6) processing speed, and (7) verbal intelligence. Prenatal fish consumption, maternal education, preterm birth, and the home environment were important predictors of various neurodevelopmental factors. Although maternal smoking was associated with more adverse externalizing, executive functioning, and adaptive composite scores in our sample, of the orthogonally-rotated factors, smoking was only associated with the impulsivity and externalizing factor (\(\hat{\beta}\) − 0.82, 95% CI − 1.42, − 0.23). These differences may be due to correlations among outcomes that were accounted for by using a phenotypic approach. Dimension reduction may improve upon traditional approaches by accounting for correlations among neurodevelopmental traits.


Neurodevelopment Phenotypes Behavior Impulsivity Smoking 



This work was supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences/U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Children’s Center Grants ES09584 and R827039, the New York Community Trust, and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)/Association of Teachers of Preventive Medicine. M. Furlong was supported by NIEHS institutional training Grant T32ES007018.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

No authors have conflicts of interest to report.

Supplementary material

10578_2017_773_MOESM1_ESM.docx (20 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 20 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Epidemiology, Gillings School of Global Public HealthUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Department of Statistical Science and Global Health InstituteDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  3. 3.Department of Psychology and Neuroscience & FPG Child Development InstituteUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  4. 4.Department of Preventive MedicineMount Sinai School of MedicineNew YorkUSA
  5. 5.Department of Community, Environment, and PolicyUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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