PFAS concentration during pregnancy in relation to cardiometabolic health and birth outcomes
By Hannah Gardener, Qi Sun, and Philippe Grandjean
October 20, 2020
Introduction: Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are persistent organic pollutants with pervasive exposure and suspected associations with metabolic abnormalities and adverse pregnancy outcomes. The goal of the present study was to examine the relationship between serum-PFAS concentrations measured in late pregnancy with relevant outcomes.
Methods: The study sample included 433 pregnant women enrolled in the Vanguard Pilot Study of the National Children's Study. Six PFAS were measured in primarily third trimester serum, as well as fasting insulin, total cholesterol, and triglycerides. The PFAS were examined in quartiles in relation to serum biomarkers, gestational age at birth and birth weight standardized for gestational age using multivariable-adjusted regression models.
Results: Over 98% of the study population had detectable concentrations of four of the PFAS, and concentrations varied by race/ethnicity. Total cholesterol was positively associated with PFDA, PFNA, and PFOS, and triglycerides with PFDA, PFNA, PFOS, and PFOA, but PFAS were not associated with fasting insulin in adjusted models. Only PFNA was associated with an increased odds of birth at <37 weeks gestation. PFAS were generally not associated with birth weight, though PFHxS was associated with the first quartile of birth weight among males only.
Conclusions: This study of pregnant U.S. women supports the ubiquitous exposure to PFAS and positive associations between PFAS exposure with serum-lipid concentrations. PFAS were largely unassociated with gestational age at birth and birth weight, though PFNA was associated with preterm birth. The results support the vulnerability to PFAS exposure of pregnancy.
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