TitlePrenatal PBDE Exposure and Neurodevelopment in Children 7 Years Old or Younger: a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsHudson-Hanley, B, Irvin, VL, Flay, BR, Macdonald, M, Kile, ML
JournalCurrent Epidemiology Reports
Date Published06/2018

Purpose of Review

Evidence suggests prenatal polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) exposure effects on human neurodevelopment, but this is controversial due to conflicting research results. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to summarize available peer-reviewed data of prenatal PBDE exposure effects on cognitive function, motor function, and behavior problems in children.

Recent Findings

Eligible birth cohort studies (January 1996–February 2017) were located through PubMed®, Web of Science®, or Google Scholar® and reported PBDE concentration in cord blood, maternal blood, or colostrum, as well as neurodevelopment assessment scores in children. Comprehensive meta-analysis (v.3.3.070, November 20, 2014) was used to calculate summary effect. Covariates are child age category (≤ 2, 3–5 and 6–7 years), location, and time period.


Six studies were included in meta-analysis. We found that prenatal PBDE exposure significantly correlated with decreased cognitive function (npooled = 804; k = 6; r = − 0.237; 95% CI − 0.441, − 0.010; p = 0.041), decreased motor function (npooled = 794; k = 5; r = − 0.350; 95% CI − 0.610, − 0.022; p = 0.037), and increased behavior problems (npooled = 307; k = 3; r = 0.393; 95% CI 0.133, 0.602; p = 0.004). Child age category was a significant covariate. The largest summary effect by child age category was ≤ 2 years for cognitive function and 6–7 years for behavior problems. Biomarker type was also a significant covariate. PBDEs measured in colostrum had a similar neurodevelopment effect size to cord blood, but PBDEs measured in maternal blood had a smaller effect size, relative to cord blood. The effect of prenatal PBDE exposure on behavior may be underestimated because only maternal blood was used as the exposure biomarker in eligible behavior assessments. Our study suggests that prenatal PBDE exposure adversely affects neurodevelopment. This study was underpowered due to the low number of available studies meeting eligibility criteria, although the use of pooled data analysis helped to offset the underpowered meta-analysis.

Short TitleCurr Epidemiol Rep