Prenatal exposure to persistent organochlorines and childhood obesity in the US collaborative perinatal project

Environ Health Perspect. 2013 Sep;121(9):1103-9. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1205901. Epub 2013 Jun 25.


Background: In some previous studies, prenatal exposure to persistent organochlorines such as 1,1,-dichloro-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)ethylene (p,p´-DDE), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and hexachlorobenzene (HCB) has been associated with higher body mass index (BMI) in children.

Objective: Our goal was to evaluate the association of maternal serum levels of β-hexachlorocyclohexane (β-HCH), p,p´-DDE, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (p,p´-DDT), dieldrin, heptachlor epoxide, HCB, trans-nonachlor, oxychlordane, and PCBs with offspring obesity during childhood.

Methods: The analysis was based on a subsample of 1,915 children followed until 7 years of age as part of the U.S. Collaborative Perinatal Project (CPP). The CPP enrolled pregnant women in 1959-1965; exposure levels were measured in third-trimester maternal serum that was collected before these organochlorines were banned in the United States. Childhood overweight and obesity were defined using age- and sex-specific cut points for BMI as recommended by the International Obesity Task Force.

Results: Adjusted results did not show clear evidence for an association between organochlorine exposure and obesity; however, a suggestive finding emerged for dieldrin. Compared with those in the lowest quintile (dieldrin, < 0.57 μg/L), odds of obesity were 3.6 (95% CI: 1.3, 10.5) for the fourth and 2.3 (95% CI: 0.8, 7.1) for the highest quintile. Overweight and BMI were unrelated to organochlorine exposure.

Conclusions: In this population with relatively high levels of exposure to organochlorines, no clear associations with obesity or BMI emerged.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weights and Measures
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / adverse effects*
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / blood
  • Infant
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Obesity / chemically induced*
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / chemically induced*
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated