Background: Evidence suggesting that persistent environmental pollutants may be reproductive toxicants underscores the need for prospective studies of couples for whom exposures are measured.
Objectives: We examined the relationship between selected persistent pollutants and couple fecundity as measured by time to pregnancy.
Methods: A cohort of 501 couples who discontinued contraception to become pregnant was prospectively followed for 12 months of trying to conceive or until a human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) test confirmed pregnancy. Couples completed daily journals on lifestyle and provided biospecimens for the quantification of 9 organochlorine pesticides, 1 polybrominated biphenyl, 10 polybrominated diphenyl ethers, 36 polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and 7 perfluorochemicals (PFCs) in serum. Using Cox models for discrete time, we estimated fecundability odds ratios (FORs) and 95% CIs separately for each partner's concentrations adjusting for age, body mass index, serum cotinine, serum lipids (except for PFCs), and study site (Michigan or Texas); sensitivity models were further adjusted for left truncation or time off of contraception (≤ 2 months) before enrollment.
Results: The adjusted reduction in fecundability associated with standard deviation increases in log-transformed serum concentrations ranged between 18% and 21% for PCB congeners 118, 167, 209, and perfluorooctane sulfonamide in females; and between 17% and 29% for p,p´-DDE and PCB congeners 138, 156, 157, 167, 170, 172, and 209 in males. The strongest associations were observed for PCB 167 (FOR 0.79; 95% CI: 0.64, 0.97) in females and PCB 138 (FOR = 0.71; 95% CI: 0.52, 0.98) in males.
Conclusions: In this couple-based prospective cohort study with preconception enrollment and quantification of exposures in both female and male partners, we observed that a subset of persistent environmental chemicals were associated with reduced fecundity.