Association Between Serum Concentrations of Persistent Organic Pollutants and Gestational Diabetes Mellitus in Primiparous Women

Environ Res. 2016 Nov;151:706-712. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2016.09.002. Epub 2016 Sep 16.


Background: There is growing evidence that persistent organic pollutants (POPs) may play an important role in increasing the risk of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM).

Objectives: The aim of this study was to examine the association between polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs, 10 congeners) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs, 8 congeners) and GDM in primiparous women with no family history of diabetes in first-degree relatives during the third trimester of pregnancy.

Methods: This case-control study was performed among the three university hospitals of Tehran University of Medical Sciences. Serum samples were collected from cases (n=70) that were diagnosed with GDM and from controls (n=70) with a normal pregnancy that attended the same hospital for a routine prenatal visit. Pollutant levels were analyzed by Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS).

Results: Logistic regression analyses manifested the positive association between total POPs (sum of total PCBs and PBDEs) (Odds ratio (OR)=1.61, 95% CI: 1.31-1.97, p-value <0.0001) and total PCBs (OR=1.75, 95% CI: 1.35-2.27, p-value<0.0001) and GDM considering confounding variables (age, gestational age, pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI), and total maternal serum lipid). In addition, we found a positive association between total PBDEs and GDM (OR =2.21; 95% CI: 1.48-3.30, p-value <0.0001). Finally, we found a positive association between Ln PCB 187, 118 and Ln PBDE 99, 28 with GDM. Meanwhile a negative association between Ln PCB 28 and GDM was established.

Conclusion: Our data suggest that exposure to certain POPs (PCBs and PBDEs) could be a potential modifying risk factor for GDM.

Keywords: Case-control study; Gestational Diabetes Mellitus; Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs); Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs); Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs).

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diabetes, Gestational / blood*
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood*
  • Female
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Gestational Age
  • Halogenated Diphenyl Ethers / blood*
  • Humans
  • Iran
  • Logistic Models
  • Maternal Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Parity
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / blood*
  • Pregnancy


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Halogenated Diphenyl Ethers
  • pentabromodiphenyl ether
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls