Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

PFOS and PFOA in Humans: New Study Links Prenatal Exposure to Lower Birth Weight

Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

PFOS and PFOA in Humans: New Study Links Prenatal Exposure to Lower Birth Weight

Article excerpt

Scientists have accumulated a wealth of evidence that perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoate (PFOA, also known as perfluorooctanoic acid) accumulate in the environment and humans. Animal studies have shown these compounds to cause a variety of health effects, including reduced birth size and infant mortality. Now researchers are presenting the first evidence to suggest that human exposure to the chemicals is linked to reduced birth weight [EHP 115:1670-1676; Apelberg et al.].

PFOS, PFOA, and related polyfluoroalkyl compounds (PFCs) that can be transformed into these chemicals in the environment are used in a wide range of consumer applications, including oil and water repellents for fabric, apparel, and carpets, and paper coatings such as fast-food wrappers. The chemicals have been found in the blood of people throughout the world.

The new study shows that infants born with higher concentrations of PFOS and/or PFOA in their umbilical cord serum (a measure the researchers used as a marker of in utero exposure) had lower birth weights. The authors calculate the reduction as -69 g for PFOS and -104 g for PFOA. The study population included 293 infants born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 2004 and 2005. In earlier research, PFOA had been found in all these infants, and PFOS had been found in 99% of them. Infants with higher levels of PFOS and PFOA also had smaller head circumferences and lower scores on the ponderal index, a measure of body mass at birth. …

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