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Environ Health Perspect. 2016 Jun;124(6):848-54. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1510046. Epub 2015 Oct 23.

Perfluoroalkyl Acids in Maternal Serum and Indices of Fetal Growth: The Aarhus Birth Cohort.

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Perinatal Epidemiology Research Unit, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark.



Previous studies indicated an association between intrauterine exposure to perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) or perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) and lower birth weight. However, these perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) have to some extent been substituted by other compounds on which little is known.


We investigated the association between specific PFAAs and birth weight, birth length, and head circumference at birth.


We studied 1,507 mothers and their children from the Aarhus Birth Cohort (2008-2013). Nulliparous women were included during pregnancy, and serum levels of 16 PFAAs were measured between 9 and 20 completed gestational weeks (96% within 13 weeks). For compounds with quantifiable values in > 50% of samples (7 compounds), we report the associations with birth weight, birth length, and head circumference at birth determined by multivariable linear regression.


Estimated mean birth weights were lower among women with serum perfluorohexane sulfonate, perfluoroheptane sulfonate, and PFOS concentrations above the lowest exposure quartile, but we found no consistent monotonic dose-response patterns. These associations were stronger when the population was restricted to term births (n = 1,426). For PFOS, the birth weight estimates for the highest versus lowest quartile were -50 g (95% CI: -123, 23 g) in all births and -62 g (95% CI: -126, 3 g) in term births. For the other PFAAs, the direction of the associations was inconsistent, and no overall association with birth weight was apparent. No PFAAs were associated with birth length or head circumference at birth.


Overall, we did not find strong or consistent associations between PFAAs and birth weight or other indices of fetal growth, though estimated mean birth weights were lower among those with exposures above the lowest quartile for some compounds.


Bach CC, Bech BH, Nohr EA, Olsen J, Matthiesen NB, Bonefeld-Jørgensen EC, Bossi R, Henriksen TB. 2016. Perfluoroalkyl acids in maternal serum and indices of fetal growth: the Aarhus Birth Cohort. Environ Health Perspect 124:848-854;

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