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Biomarker-based Epidemiology Group

Exposure to Environmental Contaminants

Matthew P. Longnecker, M.D., Sc.D.
Matt Longnecker, M.D., Sc.D.
Principal Investigator
Tel (919) 541-5118
P.O. Box 12233
Mail Drop A3-05
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709

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Research Summary

The Biomarker-based Epidemiology Group is focused on health effects of early exposure to background levels of environmental contaminants. The term "background level" means exposure that occurs in the general population, usually at low levels, with no unusual or occupational exposure. To detect effects of low-level exposure, if any, the group looks at exposure that occurs prior to birth, when susceptibility may be greatest. Future research plans, however, will extend the scope to include childhood exposures. To date, the specific outcomes addressed in this research have ranged from reproductive outcomes to children’s performance on neurobehavioral tests. Matthew P. Longnecker, M.D., Sc.D., is the head of the Biomarker-based Epidemiology Group.
[An image of a fetus] + [a group of chemicals (their structures for bisphenol A, chlorpyrifos as a representative organophosphate, and DDT)] = [a big question mark]


When Longnecker began work in the field, he studied persistent organic pollutants exclusively. Persistent organic pollutants are major public health concerns because they are omnipresent in the ecosystem and may cause adverse health effects at background levels of exposure via diet. Examples are DDE, the major metabolite of the insecticide DDT, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and dioxin, also known as tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin or TCDD. Epidemiologic research on potentially adverse health effects of the insecticide DDT continues to impact public health policy, and Longnecker has ongoing studies that address the topic.

Perfluorinated alkyl substances, another type of persistent organic pollutant, have recently been recognized as a potential threat to the health of the general population.  Longnecker has completed and has ongoing a series of studies on these substances in relation to reproductive and pediatric outcomes.  In addition, he has begun studying the effects of early, low-level exposure to the nonpersistent pollutants, bisphenol A and organophosphate pesticides.

Longnecker received a B.S. from Antioch College, an M.D. from Dartmouth Medical School and a Sc.D. from Harvard School of Public Health. He is board-certified in internal medicine. He was an assistant professor of Epidemiology in the School of Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles before coming to NIEHS in 1995.  Longnecker is a senior investigator in the U.S. Public Health Service at NIEHS.  He also serves as an adjunct professor in the Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


DDE and PCBs in the Collaborative Perinatal Project

This study explores the health effects of in utero exposure to organochlorines such as DDE and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) using biologic specimens from the Collaborative Perinatal Project (CPP).

Generation R

Generation R is a prospective study of 8,000 children—born in 2002-2006 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands—who are being be followed from early fetal life to young adulthood.  The study is spearheaded by scientists at the Erasmus Medical Center.  NIEHS supported collection of urine specimens taken at three times during pregnancy from approximately 2,000 subjects in 2004-2006.  These will be used to examine exposure to selected environmental contaminants and offspring health.

Norwegian Mother & Child Cohort Study (MoBa)

The Norwegian Mother & Child study (MoBa) is an ongoing long–term prospective cohort study of 100,000 pregnant women and their babies. In collaboration with the Norwegian National Public Health Institute, NIEHS supported the collection of additional biologic specimens from the pregnant women.

Selected Publications

  1. Longnecker MP, Klebanoff MA, Zhou H, Brock JW. Association between maternal serum concentration of the DDT metabolite DDE and preterm and small-for-gestational-age babies at birth. Lancet 358:110-114, 2001.[Abstract]
  2. Longnecker MP, Klebanoff MA, Brock JW, Zhou H, Gray KA, Needham LL, Wilcox AJ. Maternal serum level of 1,1-dichloro-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)ethylene and risk of cryptorchidism, hypospadias, and polythelia among male offspring. Am J Epidemiol 155:313-322, 2002.[Abstract][Full Text][PDF]
  3. Daniels JL, Longnecker MP, Klebanoff MA, Gray KA, Brock JW, Zhou H, Chen Z, Needham LL. Prenatal exposure to low level polychlorinated biphenyls in relation to mental and motor development at 8 months. Am J Epidemiol 157:485-492, 2003.[Abstract][Full Text][PDF]
  4. Longnecker MP, Hoffman HJ, Klebanoff MA, Brock JW, Zhou H, Needham L, Adera T, Guo X, Gray KA. In utero exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls and sensorinerual hearing loss in 8-year old children. Neurotoxicol Teratol 26:629-37, 200[Abstract][Full Text]
  5. Longnecker MP, Klebanoff MA, Dunson DB, Guo X, Chen Z, Zhou H, Brock JW. Maternal serum level of the DDT metabolite DDE in relation to fetal loss in previous pregnancies. Environ Res 97:194-109, 2005.[Abstract][Full Text]
  6. Pierik FH, Klebanoff MA, Brock JW, Longnecker MP. Maternal pregnancy serum level of heptachlor epoxide, hexachlorobenzene, and ²-hexachlorocyclohexane and risk of cryptorchidism in offspring. Environmental Research 3:364-369, 2007.[Abstract]
  7. Ye X, Pierik FH, Hauser R, Duty S, Angerer J, Park MM, Burdorf A, Hofman A, Jaddoe VW, Mackenbach JP, Steegers EA, Tiemeier H, Longnecker MP. Urinary metabolite concentrations of organophosphorous pesticides, bisphenol A, and phthalates among pregnant women in Rotterdam, the Netherlands: The Generation R Study. Environmental research 108(2):260-267, 2008.[Abstract]
  8. Cupul-Uicab LA, Gladen BC, Hernández-Ávila M, Weber J-P, Longnecker MP. DDE, a degradation product of DDT, and duration of lactation in a highly exposed area of Mexico. Environmental health perspectives 116(2):179-183, 2008.[Abstract]
  9. Ye X, Pierik FH, Angerer J, Meltzer HM, Jaddoe VW, Tiemeier H, Hoppin JA, Longnecker MP. 2009. Levels of metabolites of organophosphate pesticides, phthalates, and bisphenol A in pooled urine specimens from pregnant women participating in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa). Int J Hyg Environ Health 212(5):481-491.[Abstract]
  10. Eggesbø M, Stigum H, Longnecker MP, Polder A, Aldrin M, Basso O, Thomsen C, Skaare JU, Becher G, Magnus P. Levels of hexachlorobenzene (HCB) in breast milk in relation to birth weight in a Norwegian cohort. Environmental research 109(5):559-566, 2009.[Abstract]
  11. Nepomnaschy PA, Baird DD, Weinberg CR, Hoppin JA, Longnecker MP, Wilcox AJ. Within-person variability in urinary bisphenol A concentrations: Measurement from specimens after long-term frozen storage. Environmental research 109(6):734-737, 2009.[Abstract]
  12. McGlynn KA, Guo X, Graubard BI, Brock JW, Klebanoff MA, Longnecker MP. Maternal pregnancy levels of polychlorinated biphenyls and risk of hypospadias and cryptorchidism in male offspring. Environmental health perspectives 117(9):1472-1476, 2009.[Abstract]
  13. Baird DD, Saldana TM, Nepomnaschy PA, Hoppin JA, Longnecker MP, Weinberg CR, Wilcox AJ. Within-person variability in urinary phthalate metabolite concentrations: Measurements from specimens after long-term frozen storage. Journal of exposure science & environmental epidemiology 20(2):169-175, 2010.[Abstract]
  14. Ye X, Skjaerven R, Basso O, Baird DD, Eggesbo M, Uicab LA, Haug K, Longnecker MP. In Utero Exposure to Tobacco Smoking and Subsequent Reduced Fertility in Females. Human reproduction (Oxford, England) 25(11):2901-2906, 2010.[Abstract]
  15. Brantaeter AL, Owe KM, Haugen M, Alexander J, Meltzer HM, Longnecker MP. Validation of self-reported recreational exercise in pregnant women in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports 20(1):e48-55, 2010.[Abstract]
  16. Cupul-Uicab LA, Hernández-Ávila M, Terrazas-Medina EA, Pennell ML, Longnecker MP. Prenatal exposure to the major DDT metabolite 1,1-dichloro-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)ethylene (DDE) and growth in boys from Mexico. Environmental research 110(6):595-603, 2010.[Abstract]
  17. Cupul-Uicab LA, Baird DD, Skjaerven R, Saha-Chaudhuri P, Haug K, Longnecker MP. In utero exposure to maternal tobacco smoking and women's risk of pregnancy loss later in life in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort (MoBa). Human reproduction (Oxford, England) 26(2):458-465, 2011.[Abstract]
  18. Whitworth KW, Baird DD, Stene LC, Skjaerven R, Longnecker MP. Fecundability among women with Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study. Diabetologia 54(3):516-522, 2011.[Abstract]
  19. Cupul-Uicab LA, Ye X, Skjaerven R, Haug K, Longnecker MP. Reproducibility of Reported In Utero Exposure to Tobacco Smoking. Annals of epidemiology 21(1):48-52, 2011[Abstract]
  20. Trabert B, Longnecker MP, Graubard BI, Klebanoff MA, Stanczyk FZ, McGlynn KA. Placental characteristics as a proxy measure of serum hormone and protein levels during pregnancy with a male fetus. Cancer causes & control 22(5):689-695, 2011.[Abstract]
  21. Eggesbø M, Thomsen C, Jørgensen JV, Becher G, Oyvind Odland J, Longnecker MP. Associations between brominated flame retardants in human milk and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) in neonates. Environmental research 111(6):737-743, 2011.[Abstract]
  22. Zhou H, Qin G, Longnecker MP. 2011. A partial linear model in the outcome-dependent sampling setting to evaluate the effect of prenatal PCB exposure on cognitive function in children. Biometrics 67(3):876-885.[Abstract]
  23. Whitworth KW, Haug LS, Baird DD, Becher G, Hoppin JA, Skjaerven R, Thomsen C, Eggesbo M, Travlos G, Wilson R, Cupul-Uicab LA, Brantsaeter AL, Longnecker MP. Perfluorinated Compounds in Relation to Birth Weight in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study. American journal of epidemiology  175(12):1209-1216, 2012.[Abstract]
  24. Cupul-Uicab LA, Skjaerven R, Haug K, Longnecker MP. In utero exposure to maternal tobacco smoke and subsequent metabolic syndrome-related outcomes among women in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort (MoBa). Environmental health perspectives 120(3):355-60, 2012[Abstract]
  25. Whitworth KW, Haug LS, Baird DD, Becher G, Hoppin JA, Skjaerven R, Thomsen C, Eggesbo M, Travlos G, Wilson, R, Longnecker MP. Perfluorinated compounds and subfecundity in pregnant women. Epidemiology 23:257-263, 2012.
  26. Trabert B, Longnecker MP, Brock JW, Klebanoff MA, McGlynn KA. Maternal Pregnancy Levels of Trans-Nonachlor and Oxychlordane and Prevalence of Cryptorchidism and Hypospadias in Male Offspring. Environ Health Perspect 120:478-482, 2012.
  27. Cupul-Uicab LA, Skjaerven R, Haug K, Travlos GS, Wilson RE, Eggesbø M, Hoppin JA, Whitworth KW, Longnecker MP. Exposure to tobacco smoke in utero and dyslipidemia among adult women in The Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort (MoBa). Environmental health perspectives. 120(11):1532-7, 2012.[Abstract]
  28. Jusko TA, Klebanoff MA, Brock JW, Longnecker MP. In-utero exposure to dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane and cognitive development among infants and school-aged children. Epidemiology (Cambridge, Mass.)  23(5):689-98, 2012.[Abstract]
  29. Maull EA, Ahsan H, Edwards J, Longnecker MP, Navas-Acien A, Pi J, Silbergeld EK, Styblo M, Tseng CH, Thayer KA, Loomis D. Evaluation of the association between arsenic and diabetes: a National Toxicology Program workshop report. Environmental health perspectives 120(12):1658-70, 2012.[Abstract]
  30. Loccisano AE, Longnecker MP, Campbell JL Jr., Andersen ME, Clewell HJ 3rd. Development of pbpk models for pfoa and pfos for human pregnancy and lactation life stages. Journal of toxicology and environmental health. Part A 2013 76(1):25-57.[Abstract]
  31. Bertelsen RJ, Longnecker MP, Løvik M, Calafat AM, Carlsen KH, London SJ, Lødrup Carlsen LC. Triclosan Exposure and Allergic Sensitization in Norwegian Children. Allergy 2013 68:84-91.[Abstract]
  32. Brantsæter AL, Whitworth KW, Ydersbond TA,  Haug LS, Haugen M, Knutsen HK, Thomsen C, Meltzer HM, Becher G, Sabaredzovic A, Hoppin JA, Eggesbø M, Longnecker MP. Determinants of plasma concentrations of perfluoroalkyl substances in pregnant Norwegian women. Environ Int 54:74-84, 2013.[Abstract]
  33. Snijder CA, Heederik D, Pierik FH, Hofman A, Jaddoe VW, Koch HM, Longnecker MP, Burdorf A. Fetal Growth and Prenatal Exposure to Bisphenol A: The Generation R Study. Environ Health Perspect 121(3):393-398, 2013. Epub 2012 Dec 21.[Abstract]
  34. Mattson K, Kallen K, Longnecker MP, Rignell-Hydbom A, Rylander L. Maternal smoking during pregnancy and daughters' risk of gestational diabetes and obesity. Diabetologia 56(8):1689-1695, 2013.[Abstract]
  35. Longnecker MP, Harbak K, Kissling GE, Hoppin JA, Eggesbo M, Jusko TA, Eide J, Koch HM. The concentration of bisphenol A in urine is affected by specimen collection, a preservative, and handling. Environmental research 126:211-214, 2013.[Abstract]
  36. Verner MA, McDougall R, Glynn A, Andersen ME, Clewell HJ , Longnecker MP. Is the Relationship between Prenatal Exposure to PCB-153 and Decreased Birth Weight Attributable to Pharmacokinetics? Environmental health perspectives 2013 121(10):1219-1224.[Abstract]
  37. Cupul-Uicab LA, Klebanoff MA, Brock JW, Longnecker MP. Prenatal exposure to persistent organochlorines and childhood obesity in the US collaborative perinatal project. Environmental health perspectives 2013 121(9):1103-1109.[Abstract]
  38. Wang Y, Starling AP, Huag LS, Eggesbo M, Becher G, Thomsen C, Travlos G, King D, Hoppin JA, Rogan WJ, Longnecker MP. Association between perfluoroalkyl substances and thyroid stimulating hormone among pregnant women: a cross-sectional study. Environmental health: a global access science source 12(1):76-, 2013.[Abstract]
  39. Li D, Longnecker MP, Dunson DB. Lipid adjustment for chemical exposures: accounting for concomitant variables. Epidemiology (Cambridge, Mass.) 2013 24(6):921-928.[Abstract]
  40. Starling AP, Engel SM, Whitworth KW, Richardson DB, Stuebe AM, Daniels JL, Haug LS, Eggesbø M, Becher G, Sabaredzovic A, Thomsen C, Wilson RE, Travlos GS, Hoppin JA, Baird DD, Longnecker MP. Perfluoroalkyl substances and lipid concentrations in plasma during pregnancy among women in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study. Environment international 62(January):104-112, 2014.[Abstract]
  41. Bertelsen RJ, Brantsaeter AL, Magnus MC, Haugen M, Myhre R, Jacobsson B, Longnecker MP, Meltzer HM, London SJ. Probiotic milk consumption in pregnancy and infancy and subsequent childhood allergic diseases. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 2014; 133(1):165-171. [Abstract]
  42. Wang Y, Rogan WJ, Chen PC, Lien GW, Chen HY, Tseng YC, Longnecker MP, Wang SL. Association between Maternal Serum Perfluoroalkyl Substances during Pregnancy and Maternal and Cord Thyroid Hormones: Taiwan Maternal and Infant Cohort Study. Environmental health perspectives 2014 122(5):529-534.[Abstract]
  43. Cupul-Uicab LA, Terrazas-Medina EA, Hernández-Ávila M, Longnecker MP. Prenatal exposure to p,p'-DDE and p,p'-DDT in relation to lower respiratory tract infections in boys from a highly exposed area of Mexico. Environmental research 132:19-23, 2014.[Abstract]
  44. Savitz DA, Klebanoff MA, Wellenius GA, Jensen ET, Longnecker MP. Persistent organochlorines and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. Environmental research 2014 132(July 2014):1-5.[Abstract]
  45. Morken NH, Travlos GS, Wilson RE, Eggesbo M, Longnecker MP. Maternal glomerular filtration rate in pregnancy and fetal size. PloS one 2014 9(7):e101897-.[Abstract]
  46. Lehmann GM, Verner MA, Luukinen B, Henning C, Assimon SA, LaKind JS, McLanahan ED, Phillips LJ, Davis MH, Powers CM, Hines EP, Haddad S, Longnecker MP, Poulsen MT, Farrer DG, Marchitti SA, Tan YM, Swartout JC, Sagiv SK, Welsh C, Campbell JL Jr, Foster WG, Yang RS, Fenton SE, Tornero-Velez R, Francis BM, Barnett JB, El-Masri HA, Simmons JE. Improving the risk assessment of lipophilic persistent environmental chemicals in breast milk. Critical reviews in toxicology 2014 44(7):600-617.[Abstract]
  47. Ding J, Zhou H, Liu Y, Cai J, Longnecker MP. Estimating effect of environmental contaminants on women's subfecundity for the MoBa study data with an outcome-dependent sampling scheme. Biostatistics (Oxford, England) 2014 15(4):636-650.[Abstract]
  48. Jusko TA, Shaw PA, Snijder CA, Pierik FH, Koch HM, Hauser R, Jaddoe VW, Burdorf A, Hofman A, Tiemeier H, Longnecker MP. Reproducibility of urinary bisphenol A concentrations measured during pregnancy in the Generation R Study. Journal of exposure science & environmental epidemiology 2014 24(5):532-536.[Abstract]
  49. Bertelsen RJ, Engel SM, Jusko TA, Calafat AM, Hoppin JA, London SJ, Eggesbø M, Aase H, Zeiner P, Reichborn-Kjennerud T, Knudsen GP, Guidry VT, Longnecker MP. Reliability of triclosan measures in repeated urine samples from Norwegian pregnant women. Journal of exposure science & environmental epidemiology 2014 24(5):517-521.[Abstract]
  50. Starling AP, Engel SM, Richardson DB, Baird DD, Haug LS, Stuebe AM, Klungsøyr K, Harmon Q, Becher G, Thomsen C, Sabaredzovic A, Eggesbø M, Hoppin JA, Travlos GS, Wilson RE, Trogstad LI, Magnus P, Longnecker MP. Perfluoroalkyl substances during pregnancy and validated preeclampsia among nulliparous women in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study. American journal of epidemiology 2014 179(7):824-833.[Abstract]
  51. Jensen ET, Longnecker MP. Pharmacologic sex hormones in pregnancy in relation to offspring obesity. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.) 2014 22(11):2406-2412.[Abstract]
  52. Ouyang F, Longnecker MP, Venners SA, Johnson S, Korrick S, Zhang J, Xu X, Christian P, Wang MC, Wang X. Preconception serum 1,1,1-trichloro-2,2,bis(p-chlorophenyl)ethane and B-vitamin status: independent and joint effects on women's reproductive outcomes. The American journal of clinical nutrition 2014 100(6):1470-1478.[Abstract]

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