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Pyrethroids exposure and neurobehavioral performance in school age children in rural Nicaragua
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Medical Sciences. (Occupational and Environmental Medicine)
Central American Institute for Studies on Toxic Substances (IRET), Universidad Nacional, Heredia, Costa Rica.
National Institute of Public Health (INSP), Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico.
Centre for Research in Health, Work and Environment (CISTA), National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN-León), León, Nicaragua.
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(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
Abstract [en]

Objective: This cross-sectional study explored whether pre or postnatal pyrethroid exposure impaired cognitive performance and behavior in school-aged children from a rural area in Nicaragua.

Methods: Pyrethroid exposure was assessed in 110 children age 7-9, attending grade 1-3, with cumulative parental pyrethroid use indices of hours of spraying, during pregnancy, the first year of life, and older than age one. Cypermethrin accounted for most of the pyrethroid use. Cognitive performance of the children was evaluated with 12 sub-tests and total IQ of Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC IV), grouped into indices for perceptual reasoning, verbal comprehension, working memory, and processing speed. Behavior at school was measured with the oppositional, cognitive problem/inattention, hyperactivity and ADHD index subscales of the Conners’ Teacher Rating Scale-Revised:Short form (CTRS-R:S). One year later, the pyrethroid metabolite 3-PBA was measured in 211 urine samples from 74 children (median 3.3 µg/g creatinine, max. 547) and the effect of recent exposure on cognitive and behavior was assessed with a shortened battery. 


Pyrethroid exposure indices during the first year of life significantly decreased performance of perceptual reasoning in children aged 7-9. For each 10-fold increasein hours of pyrethroid application , children’s performance on the Perceptual Reasoning Index decreased on average with 1.1 point.  Postnatal exposures, during the first year and after age 1, associated with hyperactivity and attention problem. Urinary 3-PBA levels were negatively associated with a number of cognitive functions and, noteworthy, with increased scores for ADHD in girls but not in boys.


Pyrethroid exposure in the first year of life was associated with decreased perceptual reasoning in rural children and with hyperactivity and ADHD predominantly in girls.

Keyword [en]
Pyrethroids, children, pesticide, cognitive function, behavior, agrriculture
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
Research subject
Occupational and Environmental Medicine; Epidemiology
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-182151OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-182151DiVA: diva2:558588
Available from: 2012-10-04 Created: 2012-10-04 Last updated: 2012-10-04

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