Prenatal exposure to Polychlorinated Biphenyls and body fatness in girls

Chemosphere. 2019 Dec;236:124315. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2019.07.046. Epub 2019 Jul 12.


Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are synthetic, organochlorine compounds previously used in industrial processes. Although banned in 1980's across Europe, these chemicals persist in the environment and are associated with adverse health outcomes in children. We investigated the association between in utero concentrations of PCBs and girls' body fatness. Concentrations of various PCB congeners (PCB 118, PCB 138, PCB 153, PCB 170, and PCB 180) were measured in maternal serum samples collected in the early 1990's. Body fatness was measured in the daughters at 9 y of age using body mass index (BMI) and dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) for percent body fat. Using multivariable linear regression, we explored associations between prenatal PCB congener concentrations and body fatness outcomes. Among 339 mother-daughter dyads, the median and interquartile range (IQR) for PCB congeners ranged between 15.0 ng g-1 (11.0-20.8) for PCB 118 to 64.6 ng g-1 (48.6-86.3) for PCB 153. Among daughters, the median was 27.5% (21.7-34.6) for percent body fat, 39.6% (36.4-43.5) for percent trunk fat, 4.9 kg m-2 (3.5-7.0) for fat mass index and 18.1 kg m-2 (16.3-20.6) for body mass index. Multivariable-adjusted regression analyses showed little or no association between prenatal PCB concentrations with daughters' body fatness measures. Prenatal concentrations of PCB congeners were not strongly associated with measures of body fatness in girls.

Keywords: ALSPAC; Body fat; Children; Polychlorinated biphenyl compounds; Weight.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / chemistry*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / chemically induced*


  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls