Perfluoroalkyl substances in umbilical cord blood and blood pressure in offspring: a prospective cohort study

By Zhikang Xu, Bowen Du, Hualin Wang, Zhuoyan Li, Yujian Wu, Qianchuo Wang, Yiwei Niu, Qianlong Zhang, Kun Sun, Jian Wang & Sun Chen
Environmental Health
October 19, 2023
DOI: 10.1186/s12940-023-01023-5


Humans are widely exposed to perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which have been found to be associated with various adverse birth outcomes. As blood pressure (BP) is an important parameter reflecting cardiovascular health in early life, it is necessary to investigate the association of PFAS exposure during early lifetime and BP in childhood. Therefore, we investigated the potential association between PFAS levels in umbilical cord blood and BP of the offspring at 4 years of age in a prospective cohort study.


PFAS in umbilical cord blood samples after birth were measured with high-performance liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry in the Shanghai Birth Cohort. BP was measured at 4 years of age in the offspring. Multiple linear regression model was used to investigate the association between individual PFAS level and BP of the offspring. Bayesian kernel machine regression (BKMR) was used to analyze the relationship between the PFAS mixture and BP of the offspring, while weighted quantile sum (WQS) regression was utilized for sensitivity analysis.


A total of 129 mother-child pairs were included in our analysis. In multiple linear regressions, we observed that long-chain PFAS, mainly including perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA) and perfluoroundecanoic acid (PFUA), was negatively associated with systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP) and mean arterial blood pressure (MAP). BKMR showed that an increase in umbilical cord blood PFAS mixture levels was significantly associated with a decrease in SBP, DBP and MAP [Estimated differences (SD): -0.433 (0.161); -0.437 (0.176); -0.382 (0.179), respectively]. The most important component in the association with SBP, DBP, and MAP was PFUA. PFDoA was found to be positively associated with SBP, DBP and MAP in both models. Sensitivity analysis with WQS regression showed consistent results.


Our findings suggested that umbilical blood PFAS exposure was negatively associated with BP in offspring at 4 years of age, including SBP, DBP, and MAP.


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