Prenatal exposure to 11 perfluoroalkyl substances and fetal growth: A large-scale, prospective birth cohort study

By Ikuko Kashino, Seiko Sasaki, Emiko Okada, Hideyuki Matsuura, Houman Goudarzi, Chihiro Miyashita, Eisaku Okada, Yoichi M Ito, Atsuko Araki, and Reiko Kishi
Environ Int
February 12, 2020
DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2019.105355


Prenatal maternal exposure to perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) has been reportedly associated with decreased birth weight. Although a majority of epidemiological studies concerning perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have focused on PFOS and PFOA, epidemiological studies of PFAS with longer carbon chains are scarce. In this study, we investigated whether prenatal maternal exposure to 11 PFAS, in particular those with longer carbon chains, is associated with fetal growth.


The study included 1985 mother-infant pairs (inclusive of preterm and post-term infants), who enrolled in a large-scale, prospective birth cohort study in any of the 37 hospitals in Hokkaido, Japan between 2003 and 2009. The concentration of 11 PFAS was measured in maternal plasma collected during the third trimester of pregnancy, using ultra-performance liquid chromatography in combination with triple quadrupole mass spectrometry. Associations between the measured PFAS values and weight, length, and head circumference of all newborns at birth were examined using multiple regression analyses with adjustment for potential confounders based on data collected from medical records, questionnaires, and those for maternal plasma samples.


Of the 11 PFAS analyzed, prenatal perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) [per log10-unit: regression coefficient (β) = -96.2 g, 95% confidence intervals (95% CI), -165.3 to -27.1] and perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA) (β = -72.2 g, 95% CI, -138.1 to -6.3) concentrations were inversely associated with birth weight. Furthermore, PFNA concentrations were inversely associated with birth length (per Log unit: β = -0.48 cm, 95% CI; - 0.86 to -0.11). Maternal perfluorotridecanoic acid (PFTrDA) exposure showed a significant inverse association with birth weight only for female infants (per Log unit: β = -99.8 g, 95% CI, - 193.7 to -6.0) (P for interaction = 0.04).


Our findings suggest that prenatal, maternal exposure to PFAS with longer carbon chains tends to be inversely associated with birth size of newborn infants, which may indicate that these commercially used compounds have an adverse effect on fetal growth.

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