Persistent organic pollutants and pregnancy complications

Sci Total Environ. 2016 May 1;551-552:285-91. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.02.030. Epub 2016 Feb 12.


We sought to investigate the relationship between maternal preconception exposures to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and pregnancy complications, gestational diabetes (GDM) and gestational hypertension. Data from 258 (51%) women with human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) confirmed pregnancies reaching ≥24weeks gestation, from a prospective cohort of 501 couples who discontinued contraception to attempt pregnancy, were analyzed. Preconception concentrations of 9 organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) and 10 polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) were quantified in serum. In separate multiple logistic regression models of self-reported physician diagnosed outcomes: GDM (11%) and gestational hypertension (10%), chemicals were natural log-transformed and rescaled by their standard deviation (SD). Models were adjusted for serum lipids, and then adjusted for age, body mass index, race, and smoking. Models were additionally adjusted for the sum of the remaining POPs in each chemical class. Women's serum concentration of PBDE congener 153 (PBDE-153) was positively associated with an increased odds of GDM per SD increase in log-transformed concentration, for unadjusted (OR=1.36, 95%CI: 1.02-1.81), a priori adjusted (OR=1.38, 95% CI: 1.03-1.86) and with the sum of remaining PBDEs (OR=1.79, 95% CI: 1.18, 2.74) models. Our findings suggest that at environmentally relevant concentrations, maternal exposure to POPs prior to conception may contribute to increased chance of developing GDM.

Keywords: Gestational diabetes mellitus; Hypertension; Organochlorine pesticides; Polybrominated diphenyl ethers; Preconception.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood*
  • Female
  • Halogenated Diphenyl Ethers / blood
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / blood
  • Maternal Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pesticides / blood
  • Polybrominated Biphenyls / blood
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology*
  • Prospective Studies


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Halogenated Diphenyl Ethers
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Pesticides
  • Polybrominated Biphenyls
  • 2,2',4,4',5,5'-hexabrominated diphenyl ether