Purpose: To examine the association between telomere length and neurodevelopment in children. Methods: We examined the relationship between relative telomere length (rTL) and neurodevelopmental outcomes at 9 and 30 months, and 5 years of age in children enrolled in the Seychelles Child Development Study Nutrition Cohort 1 (NC1). Relative telomere length was measured in cord blood and in child blood at age five. Multivariable linear regression examined associations between neurodevelopmental outcomes and rTL adjusting for relevant covariates.Results: Mean rTL was 1.18 at birth and 0.71 at age five. Increased cord blood rTL was associated with better scores on two neurodevelopmental tests, the psychomotor developmental index (β =4.01; 95% confidence interval (CI)=0.17, 7.85) at age 30 months, and the Woodcock Johnson test of achievement letter-word score (β=2.88; CI=1.21-4.56) at age five. The Woodcock Johnson test of achievement letter-word score remained statistically significant after two outliers were excluded (β=2.83; CI=0.69, 4.97); the psychomotor developmental index did not (β =3.62; CI=-1.28, 8.52). None of the neurodevelopmental outcomes at age five were associated with five-year rTL. Conclusion: Although increased cord blood rTL was associated with better test scores for a few neurodevelopmental outcomes, this study found little consistent evidence of an association between rTL and neurodevelopment. Future studies with a larger sample size, longer follow-up, and other relevant biological markers (e.g. oxidative stress) are needed to clarify the role of rTL in neurodevelopment and its relevance as a potential surrogate measure for oxidative stress in the field of developmental neurotoxicity.
Oktapodas Feiler, M., Patel, D., Li, H., Meacham, P. J., Watson, G. E., Shamlaye, C. F., Yeates, A. J., Broberg, K., & van Wijngaarden, E. (2018). The Association between Early-life Relative Telomere Length and Childhood Neurodevelopment. Neurotoxicology, 65, 22-27. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuro.2018.01.005