Prenatal Pesticide and PCB Exposures and Birth Outcomes

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Evidence is inconsistent or poorly understood for links between polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), 1,1′-dichloro-2,2′-bis(4-chlorophenyl)ethylene (DDE), and organophosphate (OP) pesticides and adverse pregnancy outcomes, although they are known developmental toxicants. We measured biomarkers of maternal exposure to DDE, PCB, and OP metabolites in the third trimester of pregnancy among 404 mothers in a multiethnic cohort in New York City. We also determined maternal paraoxonase (PON1), butyrylcholinesterase (BuChe), and PON1Q192R gene variant. Higher multivariate-adjusted DDE levels (but not PCB) were associated with lower birth weight (–98 g/log10 DDE, p = 0.096) and head circumference (–0.54 cm/log10 DDE, p = 0.030). DDE and PCB levels were not related to birth length, Ponderal index, or gestational age. Birth length was shorter for mothers with PON192RR slow genotype compared with PON192QQ (p = 0.026), and head circumference was inversely associated with maternal PON1 activity (p = 0.004). With slow-activity PON1 or PON192, urinary diethylphosphates (ΣDEPs) were associated with lower birth weight and dimethylphosphates (ΣDMPs) with shorter birth length. No associations were found between birth outcomes and BuChe. In summary, we found suggestive relationships between prenatal environmental biomarkers and birth outcomes in this population. Maternal susceptibility factors including PON1 and maternal weight contributed to the observed effects.

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