Environ Health Perspect. 2023 Mar;131(3):37006. doi: 10.1289/EHP10723. Epub 2023 Mar 15.


BACKGROUND: Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are persistent and ubiquitous chemicals associated with risk of adverse birth outcomes. Results of previous studies have been inconsistent. Associations between PFAS and birth outcomes may be affected by psychosocial stress.

OBJECTIVES: We estimated risk of adverse birth outcomes in relation to prenatal PFAS concentrations and evaluate whether maternal stress modifies those relationships.

METHODS: We included 3,339 participants from 11 prospective prenatal cohorts in the Environmental influences on the Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) program to estimate the associations of five PFAS and birth outcomes. We stratified by perceived stress scale scores to examine effect modification and used Bayesian Weighted Sums to estimate mixtures of PFAS.

RESULTS: We observed reduced birth size with increased concentrations of all PFAS. For a 1-unit higher log-normalized exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), and perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS), we observed lower birthweight-for-gestational-age z-scores of β=0.15 [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.27, 0.03], β=0.14 (95% CI: 0.28, 0.002), β=0.22 (95% CI: 0.23, 0.10), β=0.06 (95% CI: 0.18, 0.06), and β=0.25 (95% CI: 0.37, 0.14), respectively. We observed a lower odds ratio (OR) for large-for-gestational-age: ORPFNA=0.56 (95% CI: 0.38, 0.83), ORPFDA=0.52 (95% CI: 0.35, 0.77). For a 1-unit increase in log-normalized concentration of summed PFAS, we observed a lower birthweight-for-gestational-age z-score [0.28; 95% highest posterior density (HPD): 0.44, 0.14] and decreased odds of large-for-gestational-age (OR=0.49; 95% HPD: 0.29, 0.82). Perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA) explained the highest percentage (40%) of the summed effect in both models. Associations were not modified by maternal perceived stress.

DISCUSSION: Our large, multi-cohort study of PFAS and adverse birth outcomes found a negative association between prenatal PFAS and birthweight-for-gestational-age, and the associations were not different in groups with high vs. low perceived stress. This study can help inform policy to reduce exposures in the environment and humans. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP10723.

PMID:36920051 | PMC:PMC10015888 | DOI:10.1289/EHP10723