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Environ Health Perspect. 2015 Oct;123(10):1015-21. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1409062. Epub 2015 Apr 24.

Association of Prenatal Exposure to Persistent Organic Pollutants with Obesity and Cardiometabolic Traits in Early Childhood: The Rhea Mother-Child Cohort (Crete, Greece).

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Department of Social Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Crete, Heraklion, Greece.



Prenatal exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) may increase risk of obesity later in life.


We examined the relation of in utero POPs exposure to offspring obesity and cardiometabolic risk factors at 4 years of age in the Rhea mother-child cohort in Crete, Greece (n = 689).


We determined concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE), and hexachlorobenzene (HCB) in first-trimester maternal serum. We measured child weight, height, waist circumference, skinfold thicknesses, blood pressure (BP), blood levels of lipids, C-reactive protein, and adipokines at 4 years of age. Childhood obesity was defined using age- and sex-specific cut points for body mass index (BMI) as recommended by the International Obesity Task Force.


On multivariable regression analyses, a 10-fold increase in HCB was associated with a higher BMI z-score (adjusted β = 0.49; 95% CI: 0.12, 0.86), obesity [relative risk (RR) = 8.14; 95% CI: 1.85, 35.81], abdominal obesity (RR = 3.49; 95% CI: 1.08, 11.28), greater sum of skinfold thickness (β = 7.71 mm; 95% CI: 2.04, 13.39), and higher systolic BP (β = 4.34 mmHg; 95% CI: 0.63, 8.05) at 4 years of age. Prenatal DDE exposure was associated with higher BMI z-score (β = 0.27; 95% CI: 0.04, 0.5), abdominal obesity (RR = 3.76; 95% CI: 1.70, 8.30), and higher diastolic BP (β = 1.79 mmHg; 95% CI: 0.13, 3.46). PCBs were not significantly associated with offspring obesity or cardiometabolic risk factors.


Prenatal exposure to DDE and HCB was associated with excess adiposity and higher blood pressure levels in early childhood.

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