Perinatal urinary benzophenone-3 concentrations and glucose levels among women from a fertility clinic

Environ Health. 2020 Apr 28;19(1):45. doi: 10.1186/s12940-020-00598-7.


Background: Subfertile women have higher risk of glucose intolerance during pregnancy. Studies suggest associations between several endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and pregnancy glucose levels. However, the association between benzophenone-3 (BP-3), an EDC widely found in sunscreen, and pregnancy glucose levels remains unclear. We aimed to assess the association between perinatal exposures to BP-3 and pregnancy glucose levels in subfertile women.

Methods: We evaluated 217 women from a prospective cohort based at a fertility clinic who had urinary BP-3 concentrations measured during 3-month preconception, first and/or second trimesters, and blood glucose measured at glucose load tests (GLTs) during late pregnancy. Multivariable linear and logistic regression models were used to assess associations between time-specific BP-3 in quartiles (Q1 - Q4) and mean glucose levels, as well as odds of abnormal GLT (glucose level ≥ 140 mg/dL), adjusting for potential confounders. Effect modification was assessed by age, season, BMI, infertility diagnosis, sex of fetus (es) and physical activity.

Results: Women with higher first trimester BP-3 concentrations had lower mean glucose levels [mean glucose (95% CI) for Q4 vs Q1 = 103.4 (95.0, 112.5) vs. 114.6 (105.8, 124.2) mg/dL]. Women with higher second trimester BP-3 concentrations had lower odds of abnormal GLT [OR (95% CI) for Q3 vs. Q1 = 0.12 (0.01, 0.94)]. The associations between BP-3 and glucose levels were modified by several factors: women with female-factor infertility, urine collected during summer, older age, lower BMI, or carried female fetus (es) had the strongest inverse associations between BP-3 and glucose levels, while no associations were observed in the remaining subgroups.

Conclusions: Time-specific inverse associations between BP-3 and pregnancy glucose levels existed in subfertile women, and especially among certain subgroups of this high-risk-population.

Keywords: Benzophenone-3; Endocrine disrupting chemicals; Environmental epidemiology; Glucose levels; Infertility; Pregnancy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Benzophenones / urine*
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Boston
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Fertility Clinics
  • Fetus / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Infertility / diagnosis*
  • Maternal Exposure*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, First
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Second
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Third
  • Prospective Studies
  • Seasons
  • Sex Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Benzophenones
  • Blood Glucose
  • oxybenzone