Developmental Exposures to Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs): An Update of Associated Health Outcomes

Curr Environ Health Rep. 2018 Mar;5(1):1-19. doi: 10.1007/s40572-018-0173-4.


Purpose of review: We reviewed and summarized the epidemiological evidence for the influence that pre- and postnatal exposures to perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) may have on health outcomes in offspring, with a particular focus on birth outcomes and postnatal growth, immunomodulatory effects and neurodevelopment.

Recent findings: PFASs are persistent organic pollutants that have been widely produced and used in a range of commercial products since the 1950s. Human exposures to PFASs are nearly ubiquitous globally, but studies that addressed potential health effects of PFASs have only begun to accumulate in recent years. Animal studies suggest adverse effects resulting from developmental encompasses prenatal exposures to PFASs. In humans, the developing fetus is exposed to PFASs via active or passive placenta transfer, while newborns might be exposed via breastfeeding or PFAS in the home environment. Overall, epidemiological findings are consistent and suggest possible associations with fetal and postnatal growth and immune function, while the findings on neurodevelopmental endpoints to date are rather inconclusive. Methodological challenges and future directions for PFASs-focused research are discussed.

Keywords: Developmental exposures; Fetal growth; Immunotoxicity; Neurodevelopment; Perfluoroalkyl substances.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / chemically induced
  • Embryonic Development / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Fetus / drug effects
  • Fluorocarbons / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / etiology*
  • Immune System / drug effects
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pregnancy


  • Fluorocarbons