Perfluoroalkyl substances and anthropomorphic measures in children (ages 3–11 years), NHANES 2013–2014

By Franco Scinicariello, Melanie C. Buser, Henry G. Abadin, and Roberta Attanasio
Environ. Res.
April 21, 2020
DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2020.109518


Perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) are man-made compounds that are persistent in the environment and highly bioaccumulative in the body. Humans are exposed to a mixture of these substances, and the effects of these mixtures may be different than the effects noted for individual compounds. Prenatal exposure to PFAAs has been associated with decreased birth weight. The objective of the present study is to evaluate concurrent serum PFAA levels, as single compounds and as mixtures, in relation to anthropomorphic measures in children.


Using multivariate linear regression, we evaluated the association between single or PFAA mixtures and with height-for-age (HAZ), weight-for-age (WAZ), and BMI (BMIZ) z-scores in children (ages 3–11 years) participants of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2013–2014. Analyses were also stratified by sex. The PFAA mixture was based on relative potency factors express in terms of PFOA equivalency (CmixRPFi) or as molar sum of the PFAA congeners (∑molPFAA).


There was a statistically significant association of PFHxS and PFOS with decreased HAZ in boys. The significantly decreased HAZ in boys was also found when the PFAAs were analyzed as mixtures: CmixRPFi (β = −0.33; 95%CI: 0.63, −0.04) or ΣmolPFAAs (β = −0.30; 95%CI: 0.56, −0.04). In boys, PFHxS was also associated with decreased WAZ and BMIZ. The only statistically significant association found in girls was between decreased HAZ and PFHxS.


We found sex differences in the association between concurrent serum PFAA levels and anthropomorphic measures in children 3–11 years old. PFAA levels, as single congeners or as mixture concentrations were associated with decreased height-for-age z-score in boys.

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