Prenatal Triclosan Exposure and Anthropometric Measures Including Anogenital Distance in Danish Infants

Environ Health Perspect. 2016 Aug;124(8):1261-8. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1409637. Epub 2016 Feb 23.


Background: Triclosan (TCS) is widely used as an antibacterial agent in consumer products such as hand soap and toothpaste, and human exposure is widespread. TCS is suspected of having endocrine-disrupting properties, but few human studies have examined the developmental effects of prenatal TCS exposure.

Objectives: We prospectively examined associations between prenatal TCS exposure and anthropometric measures at birth and anogenital distance (AGD) at 3 months of age.

Methods: Pregnant women from the Odense Child Cohort (n = 514) provided urine samples at approximately gestational week 28 (median 28.7 weeks, range 26.4-34.0), and urinary TCS concentration was measured by isotope dilution TurboFlow-liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Multiple linear regression analysis was used to examine associations between prenatal TCS exposure and measures of size at birth (birth weight, length, head and abdominal circumference) and AGD at 3 months of age (median 3.3 months, range 2.3-6.7 months), controlling for potential confounders.

Results: Newborn boys in the highest quartile of prenatal TCS exposure had a 0.7-cm [95% confidence interval (CI): -1.2, -0.1, p = 0.01] smaller head circumference than boys in the lowest quartile. Additionally in boys, inverse associations of borderline statistical significance were observed between prenatal TCS exposure and abdominal circumference at birth and AGD at 3 months of age (p-values < 0.10). Prenatal TCS exposure was not significantly associated with any of the outcomes in girls. However, AGD was measured in fewer girls, and we observed no significant interactions between a child's sex and prenatal TCS exposure in anthropometric measures at birth.

Conclusion: Prenatal TCS exposure was associated with reduced head and abdominal circumference at birth and with reduced AGD at 3 months of age in boys, although the last two findings were statistically nonsignificant. These findings require replication but are compatible with an anti-androgenic effect of prenatal TCS exposure on fetal growth in boys.

Citation: Lassen TH, Frederiksen H, Kyhl HB, Swan SH, Main KM, Andersson AM, Lind DV, Husby S, Wohlfahrt-Veje C, Skakkebæk NE, Jensen TK. 2016. Prenatal triclosan exposure and anthropometric measures including anogenital distance in Danish infants. Environ Health Perspect 124:1261-1268;

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anthropometry*
  • Birth Weight
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Endocrine Disruptors / metabolism
  • Endocrine Disruptors / toxicity*
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Female
  • Fetal Development
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Maternal Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / epidemiology*
  • Triclosan / metabolism
  • Triclosan / toxicity*


  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Triclosan