In utero DDT and DDE exposure and obesity status of 7-year-old Mexican-American children in the CHAMACOS cohort

Environ Health Perspect. 2013 May;121(5):631-6. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1205656. Epub 2013 Mar 19.


Background: In utero exposure to endocrine disrupting compounds including dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE) has been hypothesized to increase risk of obesity later in life.

Objectives: The Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas (CHAMACOS) study is a longitudinal birth cohort of low-income Latinas living in a California agricultural community. We examined the relation of in utero DDT and DDE exposure to child obesity at 7 years of age. We also examined the trend with age (2, 3.5, 5, and 7 years) in the exposure-obesity relation.

Methods: We included 270 children with o,p´-DDT, p,p´-DDT, and p,p´-DDE concentrations measured in maternal serum during pregnancy (nanograms per gram lipid) and complete 7-year follow-up data including weight (kilograms) and height (centimeters). Body mass index (BMI; kilograms per meter squared) was calculated and obesity was defined as ≥ 95th percentile on the sex-specific BMI-for-age Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2000 growth charts.

Results: At 7 years, 96 (35.6%) children were obese. A 10-fold increase in o,p´-DDT, p,p´-DDT, or p,p´-DDE, was nonsignificantly associated with increased odds (OR) of obesity [o,p´-DDT adjusted (adj-) OR = 1.17, 95% CI: 0.75, 1.82; p,p´-DDT adj-OR = 1.19, 95% CI: 0.81, 1.74; p,p´-DDE adj-OR = 1.22, 95% CI: 0.72, 2.06]. With increasing age at follow-up, we observed a significant trend toward a positive association between DDT and DDE exposure and odds of obesity.

Conclusion: We did not find a significant positive relation between in utero DDT and DDE exposure and obesity status of 7-year-old children. However, given the observed trend with age, continued follow-up will be informative.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • DDT / blood
  • DDT / toxicity*
  • Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene / blood
  • Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene / toxicity*
  • Female
  • Fetus / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Mexican Americans
  • Obesity / chemically induced*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*


  • Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene
  • DDT