Predictors of serum concentrations of polybrominated flame retardants among healthy pregnant women in an urban environment: a cross-sectional study

Factor-Litvak, Pam; Whyatt, Robin M.; Wapner, Ronald J.; Bousleiman, Sabine Z.; Jones, Richard; Sjodin, Andreas; Liu, Xinhua; Horton, Megan K.

Background: Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are a class of brominated flame retardants commonly used in a wide range of products. Prenatal exposure to PBDEs has been associated with adverse neurodevelopment. Our objective was to characterize predictors of exposure to PBDEs among a multi-ethnic, low-income cohort of pregnant women enrolled from highly urban communities in New York City between years 2009–2010. Methods: During the first half of pregnancy we collected 316 maternal serum samples and administered an extensive questionnaire including items on demographics, diet and lifestyle. We measured 12 PBDE congeners in blood samples. Using bivariate and multivariate approaches, we regressed the most commonly detected PBDE congeners (PBDE-47, -99, -100 and -153) against potential demographic, dietary and lifestyle predictor variables. Results: At least one PBDE congener was detected in each serum sample. Our analyses demonstrate unique predictor patterns for PBDE-47, -99, -100 and -153 based on demographic, lifestyle and dietary characteristics of women. Higher education and increased use of household electronics were associated with higher levels of all 4 congeners. Six characteristics were associated with PBDE-153 serum concentrations, more than for any other congener. These include maternal education, household income, body mass index, solid dairy consumption, processed meat consumption and frequent use of household electronics. Conclusions: PBDE exposure in this widespread in this cohort, though levels are lower than previous assessments of US pregnant women. Lower levels may be in response to legislation restricting the production, sale and use of these compounds. In our cohort, we did not observe any individual predictor or a consistent pattern of several predictors representing a significant source of PBDE exposure. These data suggest that legislation and policy may be more effective at reducing exposure than personal lifestyle modifications.

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Environmental Health

More About This Work

Academic Units
BioMed Central
Published Here
September 8, 2014


PBDEs, Human exposure, Diet, Lifestyle, Pregnancy