Abstract

In 1979, a mass poisoning occurred in Taiwan from cooking oil contaminated by thermally degraded polychlorinated biphenyls. Because these chemicals persist in human tissue, children born to female patients after the outbreak were exposed in utero. In 1985, 117 children born to affected women and 108 unexposed controls were examined and evaluated. The exposed children were shorter and lighter than controls; they had abnormalities of gingiva, skin, nails, teeth, and lungs more frequently than did controls. The exposed children showed delay of developmental milestones, deficits on formal developmental testing, and abnormalities on behavioral assessment. These findings are most consistent with a generalized disorder of ectodermal tissue. This syndrome is one of very few documented to result from transplacental exposure to pollutant chemicals.

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