Background: Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are synthetic compounds that are widely used in industry and are often detectable in humans. In pregnant rats and their pups, PFASs can interfere with thyroid hormone homeostasis. In humans, maternal thyroid hormones supply the fetus throughout pregnancy, and thyroid hormones play a critical role in fetal growth and neurodevelopment.
Objectives: We investigated the association between maternal PFAS exposure and thyroid hormone status in pregnant women and neonates.
Methods: In a study of environmental exposure and health in Taiwan, we measured serum concentrations of nine PFASs and four thyroid hormones for 285 pregnant women in their third trimester, and also measured cord serum thyroid hormones for 116 neonates. Associations between maternal PFASs and maternal and cord thyroid hormones were examined in multiple linear regression models.
Results: Perfluorohexanesulfonic acid concentrations were positively associated with maternal thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels. Pregnant women with higher levels of perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), perfluoroundecanoic acid (PFUnDA), and perfluorododecanoic acid (PFDoDA) had lower free thyroxine (T4) and total T4 levels. For example, we estimated that maternal free T4 levels decreased 0.019 ng/dL (95% CI: -0.028, -0.009) with each nanogram per milliliter increase in maternal PFNA. Finally, maternal PFNA, PFUnDA, and PFDoDA levels were associated with lower cord total triiodothyronine (T3) and total T4 levels, and maternal perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDeA) was associated with lower cord total T3.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that exposure to some PFASs during pregnancy may interfere with thyroid hormone homeostasis in pregnant women and fetuses.