The neuropsychological effects of in utero exposure to PCBs and their related compounds were evaluated in 27 ‘Yu-Cheng’ (‘oil disease’) children (ages 7 to 12 years) at the Departments of Pediatrics and Psychiatry, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan. Full-scale IQ scores on the WISC-R were significantly lower than in the 27 controls. Mean P300 latencies of auditory event-related potentials were significantly longer and the amplitudes reduced. Pattern visual evoked potentials and somatosensory evoked potentials were unaffected. Apart from a slight increase in soft signs, the neurologic examinations of the exposed children were not different from controls. [1]

COMMENT. PCBs affect cognitive function of children exposed in utero. Evoked potentials are useful in examining the neurotoxicity of environmental pollutants in the young child. The P300 wave latency is related to the solving of cognitive tasks and the amplitude of P300 reflects concentration abilities. A significantly greater difference in P300 latencies was found for exposed children with lower IQ scores compared to controls. Delayed effects of PCBs on newborns whose mothers consumed contaminated Lake Michigan fish during pregnancy have been reported; smaller head circumference and growth retardation persisted beyond infancy and short-term memory and behavioral deficits occurred at later follow-up (see Ped Neur Briefs Jan 1990, and March 1993).