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Arsenic and manganese exposure and children’s intellectual function

Recently, epidemiologic studies of developmental neurotoxicology have been challenged to increase focus on co-exposure to multiple toxicants. Earlier reports, including our own work in Bangladesh, have demonstrated independent associations between neurobehavioral function and exposure to both arsenic (As) and manganese (Mn) in school-aged children. Our earlier studies, however, were not designed to examine possible interactive effects of exposure to both As and Mn. To allow investigation of possible synergistic impact of simultaneous exposures, we recruited a new sample of 299 8–11 year old children, stratified by design on As (above and below 10 μg/L) and Mn (above and below 500 μg/L) concentrations of household wells. When adjusted only for each other, both As and Mn in whole blood (BAs; BMn) were significantly negatively related to most WISC-IV subscale scores. With further adjustment for socio-demographic features and ferritin, BMn remained significantly associated with reduced Perceptual Reasoning and Working Memory scores; associations for BAs, and for other subscales, were expectably negative, significantly for Verbal Comprehension. Urinary As (per gram creatinine) was significantly negatively associated with Verbal Comprehension scores, even with adjustment for BMn and other contributors. Mn by As interactions were not significant in adjusted or unadjusted models (all p‘s > 0.25). Findings are consistent with other reports documenting adverse impact of both As and Mn exposure on child developmental outcomes, although associations appear muted at these relatively low exposure levels.