Background: Prenatal exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) has been linked to a wide array of adverse maternal and child health outcomes. However, studies examining PFAS in relation to offspring cognition have been inconclusive. Objective: We examined whether prenatal exposure to a mixture of PFAS was related to cognition in 7.5-month-old infants. Methods: Our analytic sample included participants enrolled in the Chemicals in Our Bodies (CIOB) and Illinois Kids Development Study (IKIDS) cohorts (N = 163). Seven PFAS were measured in 2nd trimester maternal serum samples and were detected in >65% of participants. Infant cognition was measured with a visual recognition memory task using an infrared eye tracker when infants were 7.5 months old. This task included familiarization trials where each infant was shown two identical faces and test trials where each infant was shown the familiar face paired with a novel face. In familiarization, we assessed average run duration (time looking at familiarization stimuli before looking away) as a measure of information processing speed, in addition to time to familiarization (time to reach 20 s of looking at stimuli) and shift rate (the number of times infants looked between stimuli), both as measures of attention. In test trials, we assessed novelty preference (proportion of time looking to the novel face) to measure recognition memory. Linear regression was used to estimate associations of individual PFAS with cognitive outcomes, while Bayesian kernel machine regression (BKMR) was used to estimate mixture effects. Results: In adjusted single-PFAS linear regression models, an interquartile range increase in PFNA, PFOA, PFOS, PFHxS, PFDeA, and PFUdA was associated with an increase in shift rate, reflecting better visual attention. Using BKMR, increasing quartiles of the PFAS mixture was similarly associated with a modest increase in shift rate. There were no significant associations between PFAS exposure and time to reach familiarization (another measure of attention), average run duration (information processing speed), or novelty preference (visual recognition memory). Conclusion: In our study population, prenatal PFAS exposure was modestly associated with an increase in shift rate and was not strongly associated with any adverse cognitive outcomes in 7.5-month-old infants.
- Infant cognition
- Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances
- Visual recognition memory
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Developmental Neuroscience