Exposure to Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals during Pregnancy and Weight at 7 Years of Age: A Multi-pollutant Approach

Environ Health Perspect. 2015 Oct;123(10):1030-7. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1409049. Epub 2015 May 8.


Background: Prenatal exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) may induce weight gain and obesity in children, but the obesogenic effects of mixtures have not been studied.

Objective: We evaluated the associations between pre- and perinatal biomarker concentrations of 27 EDCs and child weight status at 7 years of age.

Methods: In pregnant women enrolled in a Spanish birth cohort study between 2004 and 2006, we measured the concentrations of 10 phthalate metabolites, bisphenol A, cadmium, arsenic, and lead in two maternal pregnancy urine samples; 6 organochlorine compounds in maternal pregnancy serum; mercury in cord blood; and 6 polybrominated diphenyl ether congeners in colostrum. Among 470 children at 7 years, body mass index (BMI) z-scores were calculated, and overweight was defined as BMI > 85th percentile. We estimated associations with EDCs in single-pollutant models and applied principal-component analysis (PCA) on the 27 pollutant concentrations.

Results: In single-pollutant models, HCB (hexachlorobenzene), βHCH (β-hexachlorocyclohexane), and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congeners 138 and 180 were associated with increased child BMI z-scores; and HCB, βHCH, PCB-138, and DDE (dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene) with overweight risk. PCA generated four factors that accounted for 43.4% of the total variance. The organochlorine factor was positively associated with BMI z-scores and with overweight (adjusted RR, tertile 3 vs. 1: 2.59; 95% CI: 1.19, 5.63), and these associations were robust to adjustment for other EDCs. Exposure in the second tertile of the phthalate factor was inversely associated with overweight.

Conclusions: Prenatal exposure to organochlorines was positively associated with overweight at age 7 years in our study population. Other EDCs exposures did not confound this association.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects*
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Body Weight / drug effects*
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Endocrine Disruptors / blood
  • Endocrine Disruptors / metabolism
  • Endocrine Disruptors / toxicity*
  • Endocrine Disruptors / urine
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood
  • Environmental Pollutants / metabolism
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Environmental Pollutants / urine
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / chemically induced
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / epidemiology*
  • Spain / epidemiology
  • Waist-Height Ratio*
  • Young Adult


  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Environmental Pollutants