Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) Exposure in Early Life Increases Risk of Childhood Adiposity: A Meta-Analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Sep 21;15(10):2070. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15102070.


Some articles have examined perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) exposure in early life in relation to risk of childhood adiposity. Nevertheless, the results from epidemiological studies exploring the associations remain inconsistent and contradictory. We thus conducted an analysis of data currently available to examine the association between PFOA exposure in early life and risk of childhood adiposity. The PubMed, EMBASE, and Web of Science databases were searched to identify studies that examined the impact of PFOA exposure in early life on childhood adiposity. A random-effects meta-analysis model was used to pool the statistical estimates. We identified ten prospective cohort studies comprising 6076 participants with PFOA exposure. The overall effect size (relative risk or odds ratio) for childhood overweight was 1.25 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.04, 1.50; I² = 40.5%). In addition, exposure to PFOA in early life increased the z-score of childhood body mass index (β = 0.10, 95% CI: 0.03, 0.17; I² = 27.9%). Accordingly, exposure to PFOA in early life is associated with an increased risk for childhood adiposity. Further research is needed to verify these findings and to shed light on the molecular mechanism of PFOA in adiposity.

Keywords: body mass index; childhood overweight; meta-analysis; perfluorooctanoic acid.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity / drug effects*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Caprylates / toxicity*
  • Child
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Fluorocarbons / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Models, Statistical
  • Pediatric Obesity / chemically induced*
  • Prospective Studies


  • Caprylates
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Fluorocarbons
  • perfluorooctanoic acid