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Public Health Nutr. 2016 Oct;19(14):2562-71. doi: 10.1017/S1368980016000550. Epub 2016 Apr 8.

Impact of prenatal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons from maternal diet on birth outcomes: a birth cohort study in Korea.

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1Department of Social and Preventive Medicine,School of Medicine,Inha University,Incheon,Republic of Korea.
3Department of Preventive Medicine,College of Medicine,Dankook University,Cheonan,Republic of Korea.
4Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine,College of Medicine,Ulsan University Hospital,University of Ulsan,Ulsan,Republic of Korea.
5Department of Preventive Medicine,College of Medicine,Seoul National University,Seoul,Republic of Korea.
6Department of Preventive Medicine,School of Medicine,Ewha Womans University,Seoul,Republic of Korea.



Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) are common dietary exposures that cross the human placenta and are classified as a probable human carcinogen. The aim of the present study was to investigate the potential impact of exposure to PAH-containing meat consumed during pregnancy on birth outcomes.


Prospective birth cohort study. Only non-smoking women with singleton pregnancies, who were free from chronic disease such as diabetes and hypertension, were included in the study. Maternal consumption of PAH-rich meat was estimated through FFQ. Multiple linear regression was used to assess factors related to higher intake and the association between dietary PAH and birth outcomes.


Republic of Korea, 2006-2011.


Pregnant women (n 778) at 12-28 weeks of gestation enrolled in the Mothers and Children's Environmental Health (MOCEH) study.


The multivariable regression model showed a significant reduction in birth weight associated with higher consumption level of foods rich in PAH, such as grilled or roasted meat, during pregnancy (β=-17·48 g, P<0·05 for every 1 point higher in meat score). Further adjusting for biomarkers of airborne PAH did not alter this association. There was no evidence that higher consumption level of PAH-rich meat shortens the duration of gestation (P=0·561). Regression models performed for birth length and head circumference produced negative effects that were not statistically significant.


Consumption of higher levels of barbecued, fried, roasted and smoked meats during pregnancy was associated with reduced birth weight. Dietary risk of PAH exposure in Korean women is of concern.


Biomarker; Birth weight; Children; PAH-rich meat; Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; Pregnancy

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