Pregnancy exposure to perfluoroalkyl substances, prolactin concentrations and breastfeeding in the Odense Child Cohort

By Clara Amalie Gade Timmermann, Marianne Skovsager Andersen, Esben Budtz-Jørgensen, Henriette Boye, Flemming Nielsen, Richard Christian Jensen, Signe Bruun, Steffen Husby, Philippe Grandjean, and Tina Kold Jensen
J Clin Endocrinol Metab
September 21, 2021
DOI: 10.1210/clinem/dgab638


Human exposure to perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) has been associated with reduced duration of breastfeeding, though not consistently so, and mechanisms by which PFAS might affect breastfeeding are unknown.


To examine the association between early pregnancy serum-PFAS concentrations and breastfeeding termination and elucidate the potential role of serum-prolactin concentrations in pregnancy.

Materials And Methods

Pregnant women from the Odense Child Cohort provided blood samples for analysis of five major PFAS (n=1300) and prolactin concentrations (n=924). They subsequently provided information about the duration of breastfeeding in questionnaires at three and eighteen months postpartum, and a subgroup also provided breastfeeding information via weekly cell phone text messages. Associations between serum-PFAS concentrations and breastfeeding termination were analyzed using Cox regressions, while linear regression was used to assess associations between serum-PFAS and prolactin concentrations.


Increased serum concentrations of PFOS, PFOA, PFNA and ∑PFAS were associated with a 16% (95% CI: 4-30%), 14% (95% CI: 2-26%), 14% (95% CI: 3-27%), and 20% (95% CI: 6-36%), respectively, increased risk of terminating breastfeeding at any given time after childbirth. Serum-PFAS concentrations were not associated with serum-prolactin concentrations.


These findings are of public health importance due to the global exposures to PFAS. Because breastfeeding is crucial to promote both child health and maternal health, adverse PFAS effects on the ability to breastfeed may have long-term health consequences.

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