Dietary predictors of prenatal per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances exposure

By Stephanie M Eick, Dana E Goin, Jessica Trowbridge, Lara Cushing, Sabrina Crispo Smith, June-Soo Park, Erin DeMicco, Amy M Padula, Tracey J Woodruff, and Rachel Morello-Frosch
J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol
October 12, 2021
DOI: 10.1038/s41370-021-00386-6


Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are commonly detected in a variety of foods and food packaging materials. However, few studies have examined diet as a potential source of PFAS exposure during pregnancy. In the present cross-sectional study, we examined prenatal PFAS levels in relation to self-reported consumption of meats, dairy products, and processed foods during pregnancy.


Participants were enrolled in the Chemicals in Our Bodies study, a demographically diverse pregnancy cohort in San Francisco, CA (N = 509). Diet was assessed using a self-reported interview questionnaire administered during the second trimester. Participants were asked on average how many times a day, week, or month they ate 11 different foods since becoming pregnant. Responses were categorized as at least once a week or less than once a week and foods were grouped into three categories: processed foods, dairy products, and meats. Twelve PFAS (ng/mL) were measured in second trimester serum samples. We investigated relationships between consumption of individual dairy products, meats, and processed foods and natural log-transformed PFAS using separate linear regression models adjusted for maternal age, education, race/ethnicity, and nativity.


Seven PFAS were detected in ≥65% of participants. Consumption of dairy milk and cheese at least once per week was moderately associated with elevated levels of perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) and perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDeA) relative to those who ate dairy products less than once week. The strongest associations observed were with PFDeA for dairy milk (β = 0.2, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.02, 0.39) and PFNA for cheese (β = 0.22, 95% CI = 0.02, 0.41). Eating fish, poultry, and red meat at least once per week was associated with higher levels of perfluoroundecanoic acid, PFDeA, PFNA, and perflucorooctane sulfonic acid.


Results indicate that consumption of animal products may contribute to elevated prenatal PFAS levels.

View on PubMed