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Your Environment. Your Health.

Perfluorinated Compounds and Immune Response in Children

Philippe Grandjean, M.D.
Harvard School of Public Health
NIEHS Grant R01ES012199


Research funded by NIEHS has shown that elevated exposure to perfluorinated compounds was associated with reduced immune responses in children. Perfluorinated compounds are widely found in food packaging and textiles, but their impact on human health is not fully understood.


The prospective study followed children in the Faroe Islands, which are located in the North Atlantic about halfway between Scotland and Iceland. The investigators assessed prenatal exposure by measuring perfluorinated compounds in the mother’s serum during pregnancy, and later checked for the compounds in samples from the children at age five. They found that children with elevated exposure to perfluorinated compounds had lower antibody responses to childhood immunizations. The antibody response to childhood immunization reflects how well the immune system is functioning.


The researchers report that this study is one of the first to link childhood exposure to perfluorinated compounds with immune system deficiency. The results point to the importance of assessing the immunotoxic potential of these compounds, which are highly persistent and can contaminate drinking water, as well as food.


Citation: Grandjean P, Anderson EW, Budtz-Jorgensen E, Nielsen F, Molbak K, Weihe P, Heilmann C. 2012. Serum vaccine antibody concentrations in children exposed to perfluorinated compounds. JAMA 307(4 ):391-397.

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