Maternal serum perfluoroalkyl substance mixtures and thyroid hormone concentrations in maternal and cord sera: The HOME study

By Rebecca M. Lebeaux, Brett T. Doherty, Lisa G. Gallagher, R. Thomas Zoeller, Andrew N. Hoofnagle, Antonia M. Calafat, Margaret R. Karagas, Kimberly Yolton, Aimin Chen, Bruce P. Lanphear, Joseph M. Braun, and Megan E. Romano
Environ. Res.
March 24, 2020
DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2020.109395


Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are ubiquitous. Previous studies have found associations between PFAS and thyroid hormones in maternal and cord sera, but the results are inconsistent. To further address this research question, we used mixture modeling to assess the associations with individual PFAS, interactions among PFAS chemicals, and the overall mixture.


We collected data through the Health Outcomes and Measures of the Environment (HOME) Study, a prospective cohort study that between 2003 and 2006 enrolled 468 pregnant women and their children in the greater Cincinnati, Ohio region. We assessed the associations of maternal serum PFAS concentrations measured during pregnancy with maternal (n = 185) and cord (n = 256) sera thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), total thyroxine (TT4), total triiodothyronine (TT3), free thyroxine (FT4), and free triiodothyronine (FT3) using two mixture modeling approaches (Bayesian kernel machine regression (BKMR) and quantile g-computation) and multivariable linear regression. Additional models considered thyroid autoantibodies, other non-PFAS chemicals, and iodine deficiency as potential confounders or effect measure modifiers.


PFAS, considered individually or as mixtures, were generally not associated with any thyroid hormones. A doubling of perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) had a positive association with cord serum TSH in BKMR models but the 95% CI included the null (β = 0.09; 95% credible interval: −0.08, 0.27). Using BKMR and multivariable models, we found that among children born to mothers with higher thyroid peroxidase antibody (TPOAb), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), PFOS, and perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS) were associated with decreased cord FT4 suggesting modification by maternal TPOAb status.


These findings suggest that maternal serum PFAS concentrations measured in the second trimester of pregnancy are not strongly associated with thyroid hormones in maternal and cord sera. Further analyses using robust mixture models in other cohorts are required to corroborate these findings.


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