Background: Children are exposed to p,p'-dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (p,p'-DDT) and p,p'-dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (p,p'-DDE) through placental and lactational transfer. Some studies have suggested that early-life exposure to these compounds could lead to increased body mass index (BMI) during childhood. Our aim was to assess whether children's exposure during the first 2 years of life is associated with BMI z-score in Japanese children at 42 months of age.
Methods: We used data from a birth cohort (n = 290) of the Tohoku Study of Child Development. p,p'-DDT and p,p'-DDE levels were measured in breast milk samples collected 1 month after birth, and levels in children were estimated using a toxicokinetic model for three exposure periods (0-6 months, 6-12 months, 12-24 months). Associations between exposure estimates and BMI z-score at 42 months of age were assessed using multivariate linear regression models.
Results: We found no significant association between levels of p,p'-DDT measured in breast milk or estimated in children and BMI z-score. However, we observed associations between estimated p,p'-DDE levels in girls during all postnatal exposure periods and BMI z-score; for each log increase in the estimated p,p'-DDE levels, BMI z-score increased by 0.23 (C.I. 95%: 0.01, 0.45) for the 0-6 months exposure period, 0.26 (C.I. 95%: 0.06, 0.47) for the 6-12 months exposure period, and 0.24 (C.I. 95%: 0.05, 0.43) for the 12-24 months exposure period.
Conclusion: In this study of Japanese children, estimated postnatal p,p'-DDE levels were associated with increased BMI z-score at 42 months of age, mostly in girls. These results are in line with previous studies supporting that early-life exposure to p,p'-DDE may be associated with higher BMI during childhood.
Keywords: Body mass index (BMI); Breast milk; Postnatal exposure; Toxicokinetic modeling; p,p’-dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (p,p’-DDE); p,p’-dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (p,p’-DDT).