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Am J Epidemiol. 2017 Feb 1;185(3):185-193. doi: 10.1093/aje/kww213.

Maternal Concentrations of Perfluoroalkyl Substances and Fetal Markers of Metabolic Function and Birth Weight.

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Correspondence to Dr. Linda Dodds, Perinatal Epidemiology Research Unit, 7th Floor Women's Site, IWK Health Centre, 5980 University Avenue, P.O. Box 9700, Halifax, NS B3H 6R8, Canada (e-mail:


Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are ubiquitous, persistent chemicals that have been widely used in the production of common household and consumer goods for their nonflammable, lipophobic, and hydrophobic properties. Inverse associations between maternal or umbilical cord blood concentrations of perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctanesulfonate and birth weight have been identified. This literature has primarily examined each PFAS individually without consideration of the potential influence of correlated exposures. Further, the association between PFAS exposures and indicators of metabolic function (i.e., leptin and adiponectin) has received limited attention. We examined associations between first-trimester maternal plasma PFAS concentrations and birth weight and cord blood concentrations of leptin and adiponectin using data on 1,705 mother-infant pairs from the Maternal Infant Research on Environmental Chemicals (MIREC) Study, a trans-Canada birth cohort study that recruited women between 2008 and 2011. Bayesian hierarchical models were used to quantify associations and calculate credible intervals. Maternal perfluorooctanoic acid concentrations were inversely associated with birth weight z score, though the null value was included in all credible intervals (log10 β = −0.10, 95% credible interval: −0.34, 0.13). All associations between maternal PFAS concentrations and cord blood adipocytokine concentrations were of small magnitude and centered around the null value. Follow-up in a cohort of children is required to determine how the observed associations manifest in childhood.

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