Conflict of interest statement: The authors declare that they have no competing or potential conflicts of interest.
Longitudinal effects of prenatal exposure to air pollutants on self-regulatory capacities and social competence
Version of Record online: 17 MAR 2016
© 2016 Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health.
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
How to Cite
Margolis, A. E., Herbstman, J. B., Davis, K. S., Thomas, V. K., Tang, D., Wang, Y., Wang, S., Perera, F. P., Peterson, B. S. and Rauh, V. A. (2016), Longitudinal effects of prenatal exposure to air pollutants on self-regulatory capacities and social competence. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. doi: 10.1111/jcpp.12548
- Version of Record online: 17 MAR 2016
- Manuscript Accepted: 25 JAN 2016
- NIEHS. Grant Numbers: R01 ES015579, R01 ES08977
- NIDA. Grant Numbers: R01 DA027100, R01 ES015282
- NIEHS/EPA. Grant Numbers: P01 ES09600/R82702701, P01 ES09600/RD83214101, P01 ES09600/RD83450901
- The New York Community Trust
- Trustees of the Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Fund
- John and Wendy Neu Foundation
- Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons;
- prenatal exposure;
- social competence
We evaluated the influence of prenatal exposure to widespread urban air pollutants on the development of self-regulation and social competence in a longitudinal prospective cohort of children born to nonsmoking minority women in New York City.
Air pollutant exposure was estimated categorically by level of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH)-DNA adducts in maternal blood collected at delivery, providing a biomarker of maternal exposure to PAH over a 2- to 3-month period. Deficient emotional self-regulation (DESR) was defined as moderate elevations on three specific scales of the child behavior checklist (anxious/depressed, aggressive behavior, and attention problems). We used generalized estimating equations to assess the influence of prenatal exposure to PAH on DESR in children at 3–5, 7, 9, and 11 years of age, adjusted for gender and race/ethnicity. Next, we assessed the association of prenatal exposure to PAH with social competence, as measured by the social responsiveness scale (SRS), the association of impaired self-regulation with social competence, and whether impairment in self-regulation mediated the association of prenatal exposure to PAH with social competence.
We detected a significant interaction (at p = .05) of exposure with time, in which the developmental trajectory of self-regulatory capacity was delayed in the exposed children. Multiple linear regression revealed a positive association between presence of PAH-DNA adducts and problems with social competence (p < .04), level of dysregulation and problems with social competence (p < .0001), and evidence that self-regulation mediates the association of prenatal exposure to PAH with social competence (p < .0007).
These data suggest that prenatal exposure to PAH produces long-lasting effects on self-regulatory capacities across early and middle childhood, and that these deficits point to emerging social problems with real-world consequences for high-risk adolescent behaviors in this minority urban cohort.