Growth in Inuit children exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls and lead during fetal development and childhood

  • Dallaire R
  • Dewailly É
  • Ayotte P
 et al. 
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Background: Because of their geographical location and traditional lifestyle, Canadian Inuit children are highly exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and lead (Pb), environmental contaminants that are thought to affect fetal and child growth. We examined the associations of these exposures with the fetal and postnatal growth of Inuit children. Methods: We conducted a prospective cohort study among Inuit from Nunavik (Arctic Québec). Mothers were recruited at their first prenatal visit; children ( n=290) were evaluated at birth and at 8-14 years of age. Concentrations of PCB 153 and Pb were determined in umbilical cord and child blood. Weight, height and head circumference were measured at birth and during childhood. Results: Cord blood PCB 153 concentrations were not associated with anthropometric measurements at birth or school age, but child blood PCB 153 concentrations were associated with reduced weight, height and head circumference during childhood. There was no association between cord Pb levels and anthropometric outcomes at birth, but cord blood Pb was related to smaller height and shows a tendency of a smaller head circumference during childhood. Interpretation: Our results suggest that chronic exposure to PCBs during childhood is negatively associated with skeletal growth and weight, while prenatal Pb exposure is related to reduced growth during childhood. This study is the first to link prenatal Pb exposure to poorer growth in school-age children. © 2014 Elsevier Inc.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Child growth
  • Fetal growth
  • Inuit
  • Lead
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls

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