Child Intelligence and Water Arsenic and Manganese Reduction

Wasserman GA, Liu X, Parvez F, Factor-Litvak P, Kline J, Siddique AB, Shahriar H, Uddin MN, van Geen A, Mey JL, Balac O, Graziano JH. Child Intelligence and Reductions in Water Arsenic and Manganese: A Two-Year Follow-up Study in Bangladesh. Environmental health perspectives. 2015 Dec 29.

BACKGROUND: Arsenic (As) exposure from drinking water is associated with modest intellectual deficits in childhood. It is not known whether reducing exposure is associated with improved intelligence.

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether reducing As exposure is associated with improved child intellectual outcomes.

METHODS: Three hundred and three 10-year-old children drinking from household wells with a wide range of As concentrations were enrolled at baseline. In the subsequent year, deep community wells, low in As, were installed in villages of children whose original wells had high water As (WAs ≥50 µg/L). For 296 children, WISC-IV intelligence, using a version modified for the study population, was assessed at baseline and approximately two years later; analyses considered standardized scores for both Full Scale IQ and Verbal Comprehension, Perceptual Reasoning, Working Memory, Processing Speed Indices. Creatinine-adjusted urinary arsenic (UAs/Cr), blood As (BAs) and blood manganese (BMn) were assessed at both times.

RESULTS: UAs/Cr concentrations declined significantly by follow-up for both the High and Low (< 50 µg/L) WAs subgroups. At baseline, adjusting for maternal age and intelligence, plasma ferritin, head circumference, home environment quality, school grade and BMn, UAs/Cr was significantly negatively associated with Full Scale IQ, and with all Index scores (except Processing Speed). After adjusting for baseline Working Memory scores and school grade, each 100-µg/g reduction in UAs/Cr from baseline to follow-up was associated with a 0.91 point increase in Working Memory (95% CI: 0.14, 1.67). The change in UAs/Cr across follow-up was not significantly associated with changes in Full Scale IQ or Index scores.

CONCLUSIONS: Installation of deep, low As, community wells lowered UAs, BAs and BMn. A greater decrease in UAs/Cr was associated with greater improvements in Working Memory scores, but not with a greater improvement in Full Scale IQ.

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