Early-life exposures to persistent organic pollutants in relation to overweight in preschool children

Reprod Toxicol. 2017 Mar;68:145-153. doi: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2016.08.002. Epub 2016 Aug 3.


Current knowledge on obesogenic effects of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) is equivocal. We therefore evaluated the associations between early-life POP exposures and body mass index (BMI) in 444 Faroese children born in 2007-2009. POPs were measured in maternal 2-week postpartum serum and child age-5 serum. Linear regression and generalised linear models assessed the associations with continuous and dichotomous BMI z-scores, respectively, at ages 18 months and/or 5 years. Maternal serum concentrations of HCB, PFOS and PFOA were associated with increased BMI z-scores and/or overweight risk (i.e. BMI z-score≥85th WHO percentile). No clear association was found for maternal serum-PCBs, p,p'-DDE, PFHxS, PFNA and PFDA. In cross-sectional analyses, we observed a pattern of inverse associations between child serum-POPs and BMI z-scores at age 5, perhaps due to reverse causation that requires attention in future prospective analyses. Findings in this recent cohort support a role of maternal exposure to endocrine disruptors in the childhood obesity epidemic.

Keywords: Childhood obesity; DOHaD; Developmental toxicity; Endocrine disruptors; Perfluoroalkyl substances; Persistent organic pollutants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anthropometry
  • Child, Preschool
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Endocrine Disruptors / blood
  • Endocrine Disruptors / toxicity*
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Female
  • Fluorocarbons / blood
  • Fluorocarbons / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Overweight / blood
  • Overweight / chemically induced*
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / blood
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / chemically induced*
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / epidemiology
  • Prevalence


  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Fluorocarbons