Association between prenatal exposure to multiple persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and growth indicators in newborns

Environ Res. 2019 Apr:171:285-292. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2018.12.064. Epub 2018 Dec 30.


Despite the fact that many of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) have been banned for decades, they still constitute a group of harmful substances to human health. Prenatal exposure can have adverse effects on one's health as well as on their newborns. The present cross-sectional study, which includes 87% of the births registered in La Palma Island (Canary Islands, Spain) during 2016 (n = 447), aims to evaluate the potential adverse health effects exerted by a wide range of POPs on newborns. We quantified blood cord levels of twenty organochlorine pesticides, eighteen polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), eight bromodiphenyl ethers (BDEs), and sixteen polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) using the method of gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. By groups, p,p'-DDE, PCB-28, BDE-47, and phenanthrene were the most frequently detected compounds (median values = 0.148, 0.107, 0.065, and 0.380 ng/mL, respectively). p,p'-DDE was found to be significantly associated with an increase in neonatal birth weight, with a special emphasis on girls. An inverse association between PCB-28 and PCB-52 with birth weight was observed, and these associations were determined by the gender. A similar trend was obtained for BDE-47 but not for any of the PAHs. When assessing the effect of mixtures, boys exhibiting ≥ 3 OCPs were at lower risk of having higher birth weight (OR = 0.25; 95% CI = 0.07 - 0.89; P = 0.032). The effect of these pollutants on birth weight does not go in the same direction, a fact that is conditioned by several factors, including the chemical nature of the substance or the gender of the newborn. Additional research is needed to understand the role of POPs on fetal development.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Environmental Pollutants*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Pesticides*
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects
  • Spain


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Pesticides
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls