Longitudinal Associations of Exposure to Perfluoroalkylated Substances in Childhood and Adolescence and Indicators of Adiposity and Glucose Metabolism 6 and 12 Years Later: The European Youth Heart Study

Diabetes Care. 2016 Oct;39(10):1745-51. doi: 10.2337/dc16-0269. Epub 2016 Aug 3.


Objective: To investigate the long-term association of exposure to perfluoroalkylated substances, including perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), during childhood (9 years) and adolescence (15 years) on indicators of adiposity and glucose metabolism in adolescence (15 years) and young adulthood (21 years). Secondarily, we aim to clarify the degree of tracking of exposure from childhood into young adulthood.

Research design and methods: Data derived from a large multicenter prospective cohort study, in which the same participants have been observed from childhood (N = 590), during adolescence (N = 444), and into young adulthood (N = 369). Stored plasma samples were analyzed for PFOS and PFOA. Indicators of adiposity comprising body height, body weight, sum of four skinfolds, and waist circumference, as well as indicators of glucose metabolism, comprising fasting blood glucose, triglyceride, and insulin levels, β-cell function, and insulin resistance, have been collected at all study waves. Multiple linear regression was applied in order to model earlier exposure on later outcome while controlling for baseline outcome levels, sex, age, and socioeconomic factors.

Results: Childhood exposure to PFOS was associated with indicators of adiposity at 15 years of age that are displayed in elevated BMI, skinfold thickness, and waist circumference, as well as increased skinfold thickness and waist circumference at 21 years of age. PFOA exposure in childhood was associated with decreased β-cell function at 15 years of age. We did not observe associations between exposure during adolescence and indicators of adiposity and glucose metabolism in young adulthood.

Conclusions: This study found evidence for childhood exposure to PFOS and PFOA predicting adiposity at 15 and 21 years of age and impaired β-cell function at 15 years of age, respectively.

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity / drug effects*
  • Adolescent
  • Alkanesulfonic Acids / adverse effects
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • Caprylates / adverse effects
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Fluorocarbons / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Pediatric Obesity / chemically induced
  • Pediatric Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Skinfold Thickness
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Triglycerides / blood
  • Waist Circumference
  • Young Adult


  • Alkanesulfonic Acids
  • Blood Glucose
  • Caprylates
  • Fluorocarbons
  • Insulin
  • Triglycerides
  • perfluorooctanoic acid
  • perfluorooctane sulfonic acid