Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in drinking water and birthweight in the US
By Zhu, Yachena, Bartell, Scott M.
August 13, 2020
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are ubiquitous in the serum of the general US population, and were detected in public water systems serving approximately 16.5 million US residents during 2013–2015. Low birthweight was associated with PFAS exposures in previous studies.
Birthweights for singleton births during 2013–2015 were obtained from CDC WONDER, multiply stratified by county, maternal age, race, education, smoking status, and parity. PFAS water concentrations were obtained from EPA UCMR3 database and aggregated by county. Multiple regression weighted by inverse variance was used to produce effect estimates equivalent to those that would be obtained from individual-level data on birthweight and confounders.
Adjusting for stratification demographic confounders (maternal age, race, education, smoking status, and parity), we found an average change in birthweight of 0.9 g (95% confidence interval [CI] = −0.5, 2.2), −1.3 g (−1.6, −0.9), −3.8 g (−4.9, −2.7), and −3.8 g (−4.3, −3.3) per ng/L increase in the population-weighted average perfluorooctanoic acid, perfluorooctane sulfonate, perfluoroheptanoic acid, and perfluorohexane sulfonic acid in public water supplies by county, respectively. We found an average change in birthweight of −1.0 g (95% CI = −1.2, −0.8) per ng/L increase in the sum of perfluorooctanoic acid, perfluorooctane sulfonate, perfluoroheptanoic acid, and perfluorohexane sulfonic acid concentrations in public water supplies.
The direction and magnitude of association between PFAS and birthweight varied by PFAS chemical in this study. Conclusions are tempered by inherent limitations of the 2 public-use datasets, and by the sensitivity of our results to alternative methods such as mutual adjustment for co-exposures.