Environmental exposure to DDT and its metabolites in cord serum: Distribution, enantiomeric patterns, and effects on infant birth outcomes

Sci Total Environ. 2017 Feb 15:580:491-498. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.11.196. Epub 2016 Dec 15.


Previous in vivo studies have suggested that prenatal exposure to dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) is endocrine disrupting, and may cause adverse health risks to newborns. In this cross-sectional study, non-invasive cord serum samples were collected from maternal-neonate pairs of an island population. Concentrations of DDT and its metabolites were analyzed to provide insights into the environmental exposure patterns and to elucidate their effects on birth outcomes. The average concentrations of p,p'-DDE, o,p'-DDD, p,p'-DDD, o,p'-DDT, p,p'-DDT and total DDTs were 0.463, 0.293, 0.089, 0.098, 0.441 and 1.384μgg-1 lipid weight, respectively. Several maternal characteristics were identified as influencing factors on the environmental exposure distribution. The isomer ratios of individual components and the enantiomeric patterns of o,p'-DDD and o,p'-DDT indicated that historical technical DDT remains the predominant exposure source, though new sources of dicofol-type of DDT pollution must not be ignored. Using multivariable linear regression, increasing p,p'-DDD and p,p'-DDT levels were found to be significantly associated with an increase in neonatal birth weight, which deserves additional attention to obesity risks. No other birth outcome was found to be significant regarding DDT exposure. These findings raise the awareness of the prenatal risk of DDT and its metabolites among infants in contaminated areas.

Keywords: Birth outcomes; Cord serum; DDT; Enantiomeric patterns; Environmental exposure.

MeSH terms

  • Birth Weight
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • DDT / analysis*
  • Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*


  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene
  • DDT