Prenatal and childhood exposure to chlordecone and sex-typed toy preference of 7-year-old Guadeloupean children

  • Sylvaine CordierEmail author
  • Nadine Forget-Dubois
  • Mireille Desrochers-Couture
  • Florence Rouget
  • Leah Michineau
  • Christine Monfort
  • Jean Pierre Thome
  • Philippe Kadhel
  • Luc Multigner
  • Gina Muckle
Environmental and human health issues related to long term contamination by chlordecone in the French West Indies


Chlordecone was used intensively as an insecticide in the French West Indies. Because of its high persistence, the resulting contamination of food and water has led to chronic exposure of the general population as evidenced by its presence in the blood of people of Guadeloupe, in particular in pregnant women and newborns, and in maternal breast milk. Chlordecone is recognized as a reproductive and developmental toxicant, is neurotoxic and carcinogenic in rodents, and is considered as an endocrine-disrupting compound with well-established estrogenic and progestogenic properties both in vitro and in vivo. The question arises of its potential consequences on child neurodevelopment following prenatal and childhood exposure, in particular on behavioral sexual dimorphism in childhood. We followed 116 children from the TIMOUN mother–child cohort study in Guadeloupe, who were examined at age 7. These children were invited to participate in a 7-min structured play session in which they could choose between different toys considered as feminine, masculine, or neutral. The play session was video recorded, and the percentage of the time spent playing with feminine or masculine toys was calculated. We estimated associations between playtime and prenatal exposure to chlordecone (assessed by concentration in cord blood) or childhood exposure (determined from concentrations in child blood obtained at the 7-year follow-up), taking into account confounders and co-exposures to other environmental chemicals. We used a two-group regression model to take into account sex differences in play behavior. Our results do not indicate any modification in sex-typed toy preference among 7-year-old children in relation with either prenatal or childhood exposure to chlordecone.


Child development Sex-typed play behavior Chlordecone Endocrine-disrupting chemicals French West Indies Insecticides Organochlorine 



We thank Pierrich Plusquellec for his help in the design of the play situation.

Funding information

This work was supported by grants from the French General Health Directorate (DGS RMC11129NNA).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sylvaine Cordier
    • 1
    Email author
  • Nadine Forget-Dubois
    • 2
  • Mireille Desrochers-Couture
    • 2
  • Florence Rouget
    • 3
  • Leah Michineau
    • 1
  • Christine Monfort
    • 1
  • Jean Pierre Thome
    • 4
  • Philippe Kadhel
    • 5
  • Luc Multigner
    • 1
  • Gina Muckle
    • 2
  1. 1.Univ Rennes, Inserm, EHESP, Irset (Institut de recherche en santé, environnement et travail) - UMR_S 1085RennesFrance
  2. 2.Centre de recherche du CHU de Québec-Université Laval and École de psychologieUniversité LavalQuébecCanada
  3. 3.CHU de Rennes, Univ Rennes, Inserm, EHESP, Irset (Institut de recherche en santé, environnement et travail) - UMR_S 1085RennesFrance
  4. 4.LEAE-CART (Laboratoire d’Ecologie Animale et d’Ecotoxicologie-Centre de Recherche Analytique et Technologique)Université de LiègeLiègeBelgium
  5. 5.CHU de Pointe-à-Pitre, Univ Antilles, Univ Rennes, Inserm, EHESP, Irset (Institut de recherche en santé, environnement et travail) - UMR_S 1085Pointe-à-PitreFrance

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