Growth in girls exposed in utero and postnatally to polybrominated biphenyls and polychlorinated biphenyls

Epidemiology. 2002 Mar;13(2):205-10. doi: 10.1097/00001648-200203000-00016.


Background: Accidental contamination with polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) of the Michigan food supply in 1973 led to the exposure of more than 4000 individuals and to formation of the PBB cohort registry (1976-1979). At enrollment, measurements were taken of serum PBB and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), possible endocrine disrupting chemicals.

Methods: We examined the association of estimated PBB and PCB exposure during pregnancy with current height and weight in 308 daughters, 5-24 years of age (mean age 15.2 years), born to women in the cohort. We estimated prenatal PBB exposure using maternal enrollment serum PBB and a model of PBB elimination. Prenatal PCB exposure was estimated using maternal enrollment serum PCB because background-level exposure through diet was ongoing. Self-reported height and weight were obtained from a 1997-1998 health survey.

Results: We found no association between prenatal PBB exposure and either daughter's current height or daughter's weight adjusted for height; however, prenatal PCB exposure above 5 parts per billion was associated with reduced weight adjusted for height. Exposure through breastfeeding did not modify the association.

Conclusions: Mothers with PCB levels above the median had daughters whose current weights were 11 pounds lower than that of the daughters whose mothers had levels below the median. This study provides evidence that prenatal exposure to PCBs may affect growth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Height*
  • Body Weight*
  • Breast Feeding
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Food Supply
  • Humans
  • Maternal Exposure*
  • Michigan / epidemiology
  • Polybrominated Biphenyls / adverse effects*
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / adverse effects*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*


  • Polybrominated Biphenyls
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls