Background: Prenatal exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) may increase risk of obesity later in life.
Objective: We examined the relation of in utero POPs exposure to offspring obesity and cardiometabolic risk factors at 4 years of age in the Rhea mother-child cohort in Crete, Greece (n = 689).
Methods: We determined concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE), and hexachlorobenzene (HCB) in first-trimester maternal serum. We measured child weight, height, waist circumference, skinfold thicknesses, blood pressure (BP), blood levels of lipids, C-reactive protein, and adipokines at 4 years of age. Childhood obesity was defined using age- and sex-specific cut points for body mass index (BMI) as recommended by the International Obesity Task Force.
Results: On multivariable regression analyses, a 10-fold increase in HCB was associated with a higher BMI z-score (adjusted β = 0.49; 95% CI: 0.12, 0.86), obesity [relative risk (RR) = 8.14; 95% CI: 1.85, 35.81], abdominal obesity (RR = 3.49; 95% CI: 1.08, 11.28), greater sum of skinfold thickness (β = 7.71 mm; 95% CI: 2.04, 13.39), and higher systolic BP (β = 4.34 mmHg; 95% CI: 0.63, 8.05) at 4 years of age. Prenatal DDE exposure was associated with higher BMI z-score (β = 0.27; 95% CI: 0.04, 0.5), abdominal obesity (RR = 3.76; 95% CI: 1.70, 8.30), and higher diastolic BP (β = 1.79 mmHg; 95% CI: 0.13, 3.46). PCBs were not significantly associated with offspring obesity or cardiometabolic risk factors.
Conclusions: Prenatal exposure to DDE and HCB was associated with excess adiposity and higher blood pressure levels in early childhood.