Piperonyl Butoxide Tied to Mental Development Delay

Prenatal exposure to permethrin does not show effects on mental development at 36 months

THURSDAY, Feb. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Prenatal exposure to piperonyl butoxide may delay mental development at 36 months of age, according to research published online Feb. 7 in Pediatrics.

Megan K. Horton, Ph.D., of Columbia University in New York City, and colleagues performed a prospective study on the effect of prenatal exposure to two residential pesticides: permethrin and piperonyl butoxide. They tested a group of non-smoking black and Dominican mothers and newborns living in low-income neighborhoods in New York City. Ambient air levels were measured with air monitors in the mothers homes to obtain prenatal permethrin and piperonyl butoxide levels. Permethrin was also measured in maternal and umbilical cord plasma collected on delivery.

According to the researchers, the 36-month-olds with high prenatal exposure to piperonyl butoxide (more than 4.34 ng of piperonyl butoxide per cubic meter) showed greater delays in cognitive development, scoring a mean of 3.9 points lower on the Bayley Mental Development Index, compared to those with lower exposure. However, prenatal exposure to permethrin appeared to have no effect on mental or motor development at 36 months of age.

"These findings should be considered preliminary and may be useful for generating future hypotheses," the authors write.

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