Prenatal exposure to multiple persistent organic pollutants in association with adiposity markers and blood pressure in preadolescents

Environ Int. 2023 Aug:178:108056. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2023.108056. Epub 2023 Jun 22.


Background: Several studies have reported that prenatal exposure to some persistent organic pollutants (POPs) is associated with higher adiposity in childhood. Few studies have assessed whether this finding persists into adolescence, and few have considered exposure to POPs as a mixture. This study aims to assess the association between prenatal exposure to multiple POPs and adiposity markers and blood pressure in preadolescents.

Methods: This study included 1667 mother-child pairs enrolled in the PELAGIE (France) and the INMA (Spain) mother-child cohorts. Three polychlorobiphenyls (PCB 138, 153 and 180, treated as a sum of PCBs) and three organochlorine pesticides (p,p'-Dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene [p,p'-DDE], β-hexachlorocyclohexane [β-HCH], and hexachlorobenzene [HCB]) were assessed in maternal or cord serum. Body mass index z-score (zBMI), abdominal obesity (waist-to-height ratio > 0.5), percentage of fat mass, and blood pressure (mmHg) were measured at around 12 years of age. Single-exposure associations were studied using linear or logistic regressions, and the POP mixture effect was evaluated using quantile G-computation (qgComp) and Bayesian Kernel Machine Regression (BKMR). All models were adjusted for potential confounders and performed for boys and girls together and separately.

Results: Prenatal exposure to the POP mixture was associated with higher zBMI (beta [95 % CI] of the qgComp = 0.15 [0.07; 0.24]) and percentage of fat mass (0.83 [0.31; 1.35]), with no evidence of sex-specific association. These mixture effects were also statistically significant using BKMR. These associations were driven mainly by exposure to HCB and, to a lesser extent, to β-HCH. In addition, the single-exposure models showed an association between β-HCH and p,p'-DDE and higher systolic blood pressure, especially in girls (p,p'-DDE for girls = 1.00 [0.15; 1.86]). No significant associations were found for PCBs.

Conclusion: This study suggests that prenatal exposure to POPs, particularly organochlorine pesticides, remains associated with unfavorable cardiometabolic health up to the age of 12.

Keywords: Birth cohort; Blood pressure; Body mass index; Chemicals; Mixture; Persistent organic pollutant.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity
  • Adolescent
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Blood Pressure
  • Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Environmental Pollutants* / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Hexachlorobenzene
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated* / analysis
  • Male
  • Obesity
  • Persistent Organic Pollutants
  • Pesticides* / toxicity
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls* / toxicity
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*


  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls
  • beta-hexachlorocyclohexane
  • Persistent Organic Pollutants
  • Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene
  • Hexachlorobenzene
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Pesticides