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Your Environment. Your Health.

Prenatal PFOA Exposure Linked To Increased Weight Gain In Chiildhood

Joseph Braun, Ph.D., Bruce Lanphear, M.D.
Brown University, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
R01ES020346, P01ES11261, R01ES014575, and R01ES020349

Women exposed to higher levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) while pregnant had children who had gained more weight by age 8 than children whose mothers were less exposed, according researchers funded by NIEHS.

To examine the link between PFOA and obesity, researchers studied 204 mother-child pairs who lived downstream of a chemical plant along the Ohio River in West Virginia. The plant produced PFOA, a toxic chemical found in many household products including nonstick pans and water-repellant clothing. The researchers used data from the HOME study (Health Outcomes and Measures of the Environment), an NIEHS-funded cohort established in 2003 at the University of Cincinnati to study the effects over time of low-level exposures in pregnant women and their children.

By looking at the children over time, researchers found that children of more highly exposed mothers generally had the lowest body mass index (BMI) at age 2. But between 2 and 8 years of age, those children gained more weight than children born to less-exposed mothers and had much higher BMI measures by age 8. This could explain why studies that measure only one moment in time have found mixed results for this association.

Citation: Braun JM, Chen A, Romano ME, Calafat AM, Webster GM, Yolton K, Lanphear BP. 2015. Prenatal perfluoroalkyl substance exposure and child adiposity at 8 years of age: the HOME study. Obesity (Silver Spring) 24(1):231-237.


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