The relationship of urinary 3-phenoxybenzoic acid concentrations in utero and during childhood with adiposity in 4-year-old children

Environ Res. 2019 May;172:446-453. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2019.02.037. Epub 2019 Feb 26.


Background: Pyrethroid pesticides are reported to be the most commonly used residential insecticides worldwide. We aimed to investigate the relationship between prenatal and postnatal 3-phenoxybenzoic acid (3-PBA) concentrations, and growth and adiposity parameters in 4-year-old children.

Method: We obtained data from 578 children who participated in the prospective Environment and Development of Children (EDC) study at around 4 years of age (45-55 months) between August 2008 and July 2011. Anthropometric measurements were obtained at age 4 years. Prenatal and postnatal urinary 3-PBA concentration was measured in maternal urine samples at around 20 weeks of gestation, and in the 4-year-old children, respectively.

Result: The detection frequency of urinary 3-PBA (geometric mean concentration) was 98-99% (0.98 μg/g Cr) in maternal urine, and almost 99-100% (1.34 μg/g Cr) in 4-year-old children. Prenatal urinary3-PBA concentration was not associated with height, weight, or body mass index (BMI) z-scores at 4 years of age, regardless of sex. Postnatal urinary3-PBA concentration was not related to height z-scores, but was positively associated with weight z-scores with marginal significance among only girls (p = 0.058). Analyzed by sex, there was a significant relationship between postnatal urinary 3-PBA concentration and BMI z-scores (p = 0.015) among girls, after adjusting for covariates.

Conclusion: Childhood urinary 3-PBA concentration measured at 4 years of age was positively associated with BMI z-scores in 4-year-old girls, but prenatal urinary 3-PBA concentration at midterm pregnancy exhibited no association.

Keywords: 3-phenoxybenzoic acid; Adiposity; Body mass index z-score; Children; Growth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity*
  • Benzoates* / adverse effects
  • Benzoates* / urine
  • Child, Preschool
  • Environmental Pollutants* / adverse effects
  • Environmental Pollutants* / urine
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Obesity / chemically induced
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies


  • Benzoates
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • 3-phenoxybenzoic acid