Prenatal Environmental Exposure to Persistent Organic Pollutants and Indices of Overweight and Cardiovascular Risk in Dutch Adolescents

Nutrients. 2022 May 28;14(11):2269. doi: 10.3390/nu14112269.


Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) may have obesogenic effects. Knowledge about the effects of prenatal exposure to POPs on anthropometric measurements and metabolic parameters into adolescence is limited. Therefore, the aim of the current study was to determine whether prenatal environmental exposure to several POPs is associated with indices of overweight and cardiovascular risk in 13-15-year-old children. In this Dutch observational cohort study, 194 mother-infant pairs were included (1998-2002). Maternal pregnancy serum levels of PCBs, OH-PCBs, PBDEs, and other POPs were measured. At follow-up (2014-2016), levels of cholesterol, HDL-C, LDL-C, triglycerides, fasting insulin, fasting glucose, leptin, and adiponectin were measured in their children. The children's height, weight, waist circumference, hip circumference, and blood pressure were measured. In total, 101 adolescents (14.4 ± 0.8 years; 53.7% of invited) participated of which 55 were boys. Mean BMI was 19.1 ± 3.6 kg/m2 and mean BMI z-score 0.13 ± 1.14. Higher prenatal levels of PCBs were associated with lower levels of HDL-C and adiponectin in boys and higher levels of PBDEs with higher triglycerides in girls. We found significant differences by sex in the associations with OH-PCBs, with lower HDL-C and adiponectin, higher LDL-C/HDL-C ratio, fasting glucose, HOMA2-IR, height, and weight for boys. Our study indicates that higher prenatal exposure to PCBs, OH-PCBs, and PBDEs was associated with adolescent levels of some metabolic cardiovascular risk markers and hormones associated with the development of obesity and cardiovascular disease.

Keywords: adolescent; body mass index; cardiovascular risk; endocrine disruptor; glucose metabolism; lipid hormone profile; longitudinal study; overweight; persistent organic pollutant; prenatal exposure.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adiponectin
  • Adolescent
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / etiology
  • Child
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Environmental Pollutants*
  • Female
  • Glucose
  • Halogenated Diphenyl Ethers
  • Heart Disease Risk Factors
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Overweight / complications
  • Overweight / etiology
  • Persistent Organic Pollutants
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Risk Factors
  • Triglycerides


  • Adiponectin
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Halogenated Diphenyl Ethers
  • Triglycerides
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls
  • Glucose