Prenatal exposure to perfluorinated compounds affects thyroid hormone levels in newborn girls

Surabhi Shah-Kulkarni, Byung Mi Kim, Yun Chul Hong, Hae Soon Kim, Eun Jin Kwon, Hyesook Park, Young Ju Kim, Eun Hee Ha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) are ubiquitous in the environment and have been detected in humans and wildlife. Exposure to PFCs has decreased in the United States recently, while exposure to PFCs continues in Asian countries, which represents a public health concern. Various mechanisms by which PFCs affect fetal growth have been proposed, such as activation of peroxisome proliferators, disruption of thyroid hormones and changes in lipid metabolism. However, the overall evidence for an association with thyroid hormones is not strong. Therefore, we examined the effect of various prenatal PFCs on cord blood thyroid hormones: triiodothyronine (T3), thyroxine (T4), thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels, and explored the endocrine disrupting effect of these PFCs on thyroid hormone levels in children according to gender. Two hundred and seventy-nine study participants were selected from among the enrolled participants in the Ewha Birth & Growth Retrospective Cohort, a retrospective birth cohort study conducted at Ewha Womans University Hospital, Seoul, Korea between 2006 and 2010. A generalized linear model was constructed to explore the association of PFCs and thyroid hormones. Further, an analysis stratified by gender was conducted. Our study shows that cord blood perfluoro n-pentanoic acid (PFPeA) was positively associated with cord blood T4 (p = 0.01) level. Gender-specific analysis showed that prenatal PFCs: PFPeA and Perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS) exposure significantly increased T4 (p < 0.01) and T3 (p = 0.03), respectively, while perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) decreased TSH (p = 0.04) concentration in newborn girls. Thus, prenatal PFC exposure may disrupt thyroid hormone homeostasis. Thyroid hormones play a crucial role in fetal development and may have gender specific action. Hence, these results are of utmost importance in high-risk groups, such as pregnant women and children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)607-613
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironment International
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by National Research Foundation of Korea funded by the Ministry of Education Science and Technology (NRF-2013R1A2A2A01068120) . The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Ltd


  • Girls
  • Perfluorinated compounds
  • Thyroid hormones


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