In January 2019 researchers from the USA, Canada and China published the results of their study to assess the effect of polybrominated diphenyl ethers on the reading ability in children at ages 5 and 8 years. It is known that polybrominated diphenyl ethers exist extensively in the environment and in human beings, with levels being higher in children than adults. A total of 230 children were involved in the study. Blood serum levels of eleven types of polybrominated diphenyl ethers were measured at 1, 2, 3, 5, and 8 years and reading skills assessed at ages 5 and 8 years. Results showed that higher levels of hexabromodiphenyl ether (BDE-153) were associated with lower reading scores at age 5 and 8 years, although this association became non-significant after adjusting for variables. Higher blood serum levels of 2,2′,4,4′- tetrabromodiphenyl ether (BDE-47), 2,2′,4,4′,5-pentabromodiphenyl ether (BDE-99), and 2,2′,4,4′,6-pentabromodiphenyl ether (BDE-100) were also associated with lower reading scores at ages 5 and 8, but after adjusting for variables the estimates were much reduced and became non-significant although the trend for most of the associations did not change. The researchers concluded that their findings suggested that there was a non-significant trend that higher blood serum levels of childhood polybrominated diphenyl ethers, especially BDE-153, are associated with reduced reading skills.
Liang H et al. Childhood polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) serum concentration and reading ability at ages 5 and 8 years: The HOME Study. Environ Int. 2019 Jan;122:330-339