Identifying Risk Factors for Levels of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in the Placenta in a High-Risk Pregnancy Cohort in North Carolina

By Bangma, Jacqueline, Lauren A. Eaves, Kirsi Oldenburg, Jessica L. Reiner, Tracy Manuck, and Rebecca C. Fry
Environ Sci Technol
November 17, 2020
DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.9b07102

Prenatal exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a ubiquitous class of chemicals, is associated with adverse outcomes such as pre-eclampsia, low infant birth weight, and later-life adiposity. The objectives of this study were to examine PFAS levels in the placenta and identify sociodemographic risk factors in a high-risk pregnancy cohort (n = 122) in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Of concern, PFOS, PFHxS, PFHpS, and PFUnA were detected above the reporting limit in 99, 75, 55, and 49% of placentas, respectively. Maternal race/ethnicity was associated with significant differences in PFUnA levels. While the data from this high-risk cohort did not provide evidence for an association with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, fetal growth, or gestational age, the prevalence of detectable PFAS in the placenta suggests a need to biomonitor for exposure to PFAS during pregnancy. Future research should investigate factors underlying the differences in PFAS levels in association with a mother's race/ethnicity, as well as potential effects on pregnancy and child health.


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