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Environ Sci Technol. 2013 Apr 16;47(8):3902-8. doi: 10.1021/es3046839. Epub 2013 Apr 1.

Hydroxylated polybrominated diphenyl ethers in paired maternal and cord sera.

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Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Department of Environmental Health, Center for Environmental Genetics, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio, United States.


Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) were widely used as flame retardants in the past three decades. These compounds are lipophilic and easily cross the placenta from pregnant woman to fetus. It is not clear whether hydroxylated PBDEs (OH-PBDEs), with greater hydrophilicity, have different concentrations in maternal and cord serum samples. We analyzed PBDEs (BDE-28, -47, -99, -100, -153, -154, -209) and OH-PBDEs (6-OH-BDE-47, 5-OH-BDE-47, 4'-OH-BDE-49, 5'-OH-BDE-99) in 20 pairs of maternal and cord serum samples collected in Cincinnati, OH in 2011. The geometric mean concentration of ∑OH-BDEs (the sum of four OH-PBDEs) was 49.76 pg/mL in cord sera, higher than 32.84 pg/mL in maternal sera. Similarly, cord serum total BDEs had a higher geometric mean than maternal serum (45.51 vs 32.07 ng/g lipid). Equal or higher levels of total OH-BDEs and total BDEs in cord serum were observed in 85% and 80% of the mother-neonate pairs, respectively. The study suggests fetuses might receive higher OH-PBDE and PBDE exposure than their mothers.

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