Association between serum concentrations of persistent organic pollutants and gestational diabetes mellitus in primiparous women

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There is growing evidence that persistent organic pollutants (POPs) may play an important role in increasing the risk of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM).


The aim of this study was to examine the association between polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs, 10 congeners) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs, 8 congeners) and GDM in primiparous women with no family history of diabetes in first-degree relatives during the third trimester of pregnancy.


This case-control study was performed among the three university hospitals of Tehran University of Medical Sciences. Serum samples were collected from cases (n=70) that were diagnosed with GDM and from controls (n=70) with a normal pregnancy that attended the same hospital for a routine prenatal visit. Pollutant levels were analyzed by Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS).


Logistic regression analyses manifested the positive association between total POPs (sum of total PCBs and PBDEs) (Odds ratio (OR)=1.61, 95% CI: 1.31–1.97, p-value <0.0001) and total PCBs (OR=1.75, 95% CI: 1.35–2.27, p-value<0.0001) and GDM considering confounding variables (age, gestational age, pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI), and total maternal serum lipid). In addition, we found a positive association between total PBDEs and GDM (OR =2.21; 95% CI: 1.48–3.30, p-value <0.0001). Finally, we found a positive association between Ln PCB 187, 118 and Ln PBDE 99, 28 with GDM. Meanwhile a negative association between Ln PCB 28 and GDM was established.


Our data suggest that exposure to certain POPs (PCBs and PBDEs) could be a potential modifying risk factor for GDM.

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