Serum Levels of Persistent Organic Pollutants and Insulin Secretion Among Children Age 7-9 Years: A Prospective Cohort Study

Environ Health Perspect. 2016 Dec;124(12):1924-1930. doi: 10.1289/EHP147. Epub 2016 Jun 7.


Background: Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are endocrine disruptors and have been suggested as possible risk factors for diabetes. Few studies have been performed to investigate this association among children.

Objectives: In this study, we prospectively examined the relationship between the serum concentration of POPs and glucose metabolism in children.

Methods: Data were collected from the Ewha Birth & Growth Cohort Study, an ongoing birth cohort study initially constructed between 2001 and 2006. In 2010-2012, the POP concentration was measured in serum from a total of 214 children, 7-9 years of age. Using fasting glucose and insulin measurements at both baseline and the second year of follow-up, the homeostatic model assessment of beta-cell function (HOMA-β) and homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) were calculated. Multiple linear regression analysis and a linear mixed-effects model were used to determine the relationship between POP tertiles and metabolic biomarkers.

Results: Compared with the lowest tertile of total marker PCBs, participants in the third tertile had decreased HOMA-β values, after adjustment for age, sex, body mass index z-score, mother's education, ponderal index, and history of breastfeeding (-18.94%; 95% CI: -32.97%, -1.98%). In a linear mixed model, the HOMA-β values were still lower in subjects in the highest compared with the lowest tertile of total PCBs at the 2-year follow-up period (108.3 vs. 135.0, respectively).

Conclusion: The results of the study suggested that exposure to POPs among children might affect insulin secretory function, which could lead to an increased risk of developing diabetes. Citation: Park SH, Ha EH, Hong YS, Park H. 2016. Serum levels of persistent organic pollutants and insulin secretion among children age 7-9 years: a prospective cohort study. Environ Health Perspect 124:1924-1930;

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Diabetes Mellitus / chemically induced
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology
  • Endocrine Disruptors / blood*
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood*
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood*
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Prospective Studies
  • Republic of Korea / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors


  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Insulin