Prenatal and postnatal exposure to emerging and legacy per-/polyfluoroalkyl substances: Levels and transfer in maternal serum, cord serum, and breast milk

By Ping Zheng, Yingxue Liu, Qi An, Xiaomeng Yang, Shanshan Yin, Lena Q. Ma, and Weiping Liu
Sci Total Environ
January 4, 2022
DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.152446

Gestation and lactation are critical and vulnerable stages for fetuses and newborns. During these periods, per-/polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) accumulated in mothers can be transferred to newborns through placenta and/or breastfeeding, causing potential health risks. To investigate the pre- and postnatal PFAS exposure of newborns, we analyzed 21 emerging and legacy PFASs in 60 sets of matched maternal serum, cord serum, and breast milk samples. In serum, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), and 6:2 chlorinated polyfluorinated ether sulfonates (6:2 Cl-PFESA) were the most predominant PFASs, while PFOA, PFOS and 6:2 fluorotelomer phosphate diester (6:2 diPAP) contributed most to breast milk. For most PFASs, the levels followed the order of maternal serum > cord serum > breast milk. The 6:2 Cl-PFESA was positively associated with birth weight and ponderal index (p < 0.05). The breastfeeding transfer efficiencies (RBM, median: 0.02-0.10) of most PFASs were 1-2 orders of magnitude lower than transplacental transfer efficiencies (RCM, median: 0.40-1.45), except for perfluorobutanesulfonic acid (PFBS) showing high transfer efficiency both through placenta (median at 0.89) and breastfeeding (median at 0.86). The one-month postnatal exposure to PFASs via breastfeeding was much higher than prenatal exposure in utero. This study enhances the understanding of transplacental and breastfeeding transfer of PFASs and provides assessments of prenatal and postnatal exposure of newborns to emerging and legacy PFASs.


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