Maternal concentrations of polyfluoroalkyl compounds during pregnancy and fetal and postnatal growth in British girls

Environ Health Perspect. 2012 Oct;120(10):1432-7. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1003096. Epub 2012 Aug 30.


Background: Prenatal exposures to polyfluoroalkyl compounds (PFCs) may be associated with adverse changes in fetal and postnatal growth.

Objective: We explored associations of prenatal serum concentrations of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanoate (PFOA), and perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS) with fetal and postnatal growth in girls.

Methods: We studied a sample of 447 singleton girls and their mothers participating in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). Data on weight and length were obtained at birth and at 2, 9, and 20 months. Serum samples were obtained in 1991-1992, from mothers during pregnancy. We explored associations between prenatal PFC concentrations and weight at birth as well as longitudinal changes in weight-for-age SD scores between birth and 20 months.

Results: PFOS (median, 19.6 ng/mL), PFOA (median, 3.7 ng/mL), and PFHxS (median, 1.6 ng/mL) were detected in 100% of samples. On average, girls born to mothers with prenatal concentrations of PFOS in the upper tertile weighed 140 g less [95% confidence interval (CI): -238, -42] at birth than girls born to mothers with concentrations in the lower tertile in adjusted models. Similar patterns were seen for PFOA (-133 g; 95% CI: -237, -30) and PFHxS (-108 g; 95% CI: -206, -10). At 20 months, however, girls born to mothers with prenatal concentrations of PFOS in the upper tertile weighed 580 g more (95% CI: 301, 858) when compared with those in the lower tertile. No differences in weight were found for PFOA and PFHxS.

Conclusions: Girls with higher prenatal exposure to each of the PFCs examined were smaller at birth than those with lower exposure. In addition, those with higher exposure to PFOS were larger at 20 months.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Alkanesulfonic Acids / blood
  • Alkanesulfonic Acids / toxicity*
  • Birth Weight / drug effects
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Caprylates / blood
  • Caprylates / toxicity*
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • England / epidemiology
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Female
  • Fetal Development / drug effects*
  • Fluorocarbons / blood
  • Fluorocarbons / toxicity*
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Maternal Exposure*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / chemically induced*
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / epidemiology
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sulfonic Acids / blood
  • Sulfonic Acids / toxicity*


  • Alkanesulfonic Acids
  • Caprylates
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Fluorocarbons
  • Sulfonic Acids
  • perfluorohexanesulfonic acid
  • perfluorooctanoic acid
  • perfluorooctane sulfonic acid