Prenatal Exposure to Persistent Organic Pollutants and Organophosphate Pesticides, and Markers of Glucose Metabolism at Birth

Environ Res. 2016 Apr;146:207-17. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2016.01.005. Epub 2016 Jan 11.


Background: Experimental evidence suggests that developmental exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POP) and to some non persistent pesticides may disrupt metabolic regulation of glucose metabolism and insulin secretion, and thereby contribute to the current epidemic of obesity and metabolic disorders. Quasi-experimental situations of undernutrition in utero have provided some information. However, the evidence in humans concerning the role of the prenatal environment in these disorders is contradictory, and little is known about long-term outcomes, such as type 2 diabetes, of prenatal exposure.

Objectives: Our aim was to evaluate the effects of prenatal exposure to POP and organophosphate pesticides on fetal markers of glucose metabolism in a sample of newborns from the Pelagie mother-child cohort in Brittany (France).

Methods: Dialkylphosphate (DAP) metabolites of organophosphate pesticides were measured in maternal urine collected at the beginning of pregnancy. Cord blood was assayed for polychlorinated biphenyl congener 153 (PCB153), p,p'-dichlorodiphenyl dichloroethene (DDE) and other POP. Insulin and adiponectin were determined in cord blood serum (n=268).

Results: A decrease in adiponectin and insulin levels was observed with increasing levels of DDE, but only in girls and not boys. Adiponectin levels were not related to the concentrations of other POP or DAP metabolites. Decreasing insulin levels were observed with increasing PCB153 concentrations. Insulin levels increased with DAP urinary levels. Additional adjustment for BMI z-score at birth modified some of these relations.

Conclusions: Our observations bring support for a potential role of organophosphate pesticides and POP in alterations to glucose metabolism observable at birth.

Keywords: Adiponectin; Cord blood; Glucose metabolism markers; Insulin; Organophosphates; Persistent organic pollutants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adiponectin / blood
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood*
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood / chemistry
  • France / epidemiology
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / blood*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Insulin / blood
  • Organophosphorus Compounds / blood*
  • Pesticides / blood*
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / blood
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / blood
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / chemically induced
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / epidemiology*
  • Young Adult


  • Adiponectin
  • Biomarkers
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Insulin
  • Organophosphorus Compounds
  • Pesticides
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls
  • Glucose