Exposure to perfluoroalkyl substances and women's fertility outcomes in a Singaporean population-based preconception cohort

Sci Total Environ. 2023 May 15:873:162267. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.162267. Epub 2023 Feb 17.


Objectives: Experimental models have demonstrated a link between exposure to perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and decreased fertility and fecundability; however, human studies are scarce. We assessed the associations between preconception plasma PFAS concentrations and fertility outcomes in women.

Methods: In a case-control study nested within the population-based Singapore Preconception Study of Long-Term Maternal and Child Outcomes (S-PRESTO), we measured PFAS in plasma collected in 2015-2017 from 382 women of reproductive age trying to conceive. Using Cox proportional hazards regression (fecundability ratios [FRs]) and logistic regression (odds ratios [ORs]) models, we assessed the associations of individual PFAS with time-to-pregnancy (TTP), and the likelihoods of clinical pregnancy and live birth, respectively, over one year of follow-up, adjusting for analytical batch, age, education, ethnicity, and parity. We used Bayesian weighted quantile sum (BWQS) regression to assess the associations of the PFAS mixture with fertility outcomes.

Results: We found a 5-10 % reduction in fecundability per quartile increase of exposure to individual PFAS (FRs [95 % CIs] for clinical pregnancy = 0.90 [0.82, 0.98] for PFDA; 0.88 [0.79, 0.99] for PFOS; 0.95 [0.86, 1.06] for PFOA; 0.92 [0.84, 1.00] for PFHpA). We observed similar decreased odds of clinical pregnancy (ORs [95 % CIs] = 0.74 [0.56, 0.98] for PFDA; 0.76 [0.53, 1.09] for PFOS; 0.83 [0.59, 1.17] for PFOA; 0.92 [0.70, 1.22] for PFHpA) and live birth per quartile increases of individual PFAS and the PFAS mixture (ORs [95 % CIs] = 0.61 [0.37, 1.02] for clinical pregnancy, and 0.66 [0.40, 1.07] for live birth). Within the PFAS mixture, PFDA followed by PFOS, PFOA, and PFHpA were the biggest contributors to these associations. We found no evidence of association for PFHxS, PFNA, and PFHpS and the fertility outcomes examined.

Conclusions: Higher PFAS exposures may be associated with decreased fertility in women. The potential impact of ubiquitous PFAS exposures on infertility mechanisms requires further investigation.

Keywords: Endocrine disrupting chemicals; Fecundability; PFAS; Pregnancy outcomes; Women's health.

MeSH terms

  • Alkanesulfonic Acids*
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Environmental Pollutants*
  • Female
  • Fluorocarbons*
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Time-to-Pregnancy


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Fluorocarbons
  • Alkanesulfonic Acids