Persistent organic pollutants in maternal blood linked to smaller fetal size, IRP study suggests
Latest findings suggest that the chemicals, which are no longer produced in the United States but persist in the environment, may have lasting health effects even at low levels
Pregnant women exposed to persistent organic pollutants, or POPs, had slightly smaller fetuses than women who haven’t been exposed to these chemicals, according to an analysis of ultrasound scans by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and other institutions. The researchers also found that the women in their study had lower levels of POPs than women in the 2003-2004 U.S. Health and Nutrition Survey, the most recent comprehensive study of these compounds in U.S. pregnant women. The latest findings suggest that the chemicals, which are no longer produced in the United States but persist in the environment, may have lasting health effects even at low levels.
The study appears in JAMA Pediatrics and was conducted by Pauline Mendola, Ph.D., an investigator in the Epidemiology Branch at NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and colleagues.
Persistent organic pollutants are chemicals once used in agriculture, disease control, manufacturing, and industrial processes. They include the pesticide DDT and dioxin, a byproduct of herbicide production and paper bleaching. POPs are slow to break down, may persist in water and air, and may be passed through the food chain. Their health effects vary, but some compounds have been linked to reproductive disorders and a higher risk of birth defects.
This page was last updated on Friday, January 21, 2022