Exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) during prenatal and postnatal life has been extensively studied in relation to adverse health effects in children.
The aim was to identify determinants of the concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), brominated flame retardants (polybrominated diphenyl ethers, PBDEs; polybrominated biphenyl, PBB), and organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) in blood samples from pregnant women and children in The Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa).
Blood samples were collected from two independent subsamples within MoBa; a group of women (n=96) enrolled in mid-pregnancy during the years 2002-2008 and a group of 3 year old children (n=99) participating during 2010-2011. PCB congeners (74, 99, 138, 153, 180, 170, 194, 209, 105, 114, 118, 156, 157, 167, and 189), brominated flame retardants (PBDE-28, 47, 99, 100, 153, 154, and PBB-153), as well as the OCPs hexachlorobenzene (HCB), oxychlordane, 4,4'dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), and 4,4'dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE) were measured in both pregnant women and children.
Age, low parity, and low pre-pregnant BMI were the most important determinants of increased plasma concentrations of POPs in pregnant women. In 3 year old children, prolonged breastfeeding duration was a major determinant of increased POP concentrations. Estimated dietary exposure to PCBs during pregnancy was positively associated with plasma concentrations in 3 year old children, but not in pregnant women. Plasma concentrations were approximately 40% higher in children compared to pregnant women.
Several factors associated with exposure and toxicokinetics, i.e. accumulation, excretion and transfer via breastmilk of POPs were the main predictors of POP levels in pregnant women and children. Diet, which is the main exposure source for these compounds in the general population, was found to predict PCB levels only among children. For the PBDEs, for which non-dietary sources are more important, toxicokinetic factors appeared to have less predictive impact.
Results from previous studies on associations between maternal fish and seafood intakes and fetal growth are inconclusive. The aim of the present study was to investigate how maternal intakes of seafood, subtypes of seafood and supplementary n-3 fatty acids were associated with infant birth weight, length and head circumference in a prospective study in Norway. The study population included 62 099 participants in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study. The mothers answered an FFQ in mid pregnancy. The FFQ comprised detailed questions about intake of various seafood items and n-3 supplements. Data on infant birth weight, length and head circumference were obtained from the Medical Birth Registry. We used multivariable regression to examine how total seafood, various seafood subtypes and supplementary n-3 intakes were associated with birth size measures. Total seafood intake was positively associated with birth weight and head circumference. Lean fish was positively associated with all birth size measures; shellfish was positively associated with birth weight, while fatty fish was not associated with any birth size measures. Intake of supplementary n-3 was negatively associated with head circumference. The relative risk of giving birth to a small baby ( 60 g/d of seafood than in women who consumed = 5 g/d (OR = 0·56 (95 % CI 0·35, 0·88). In conclusion, maternal seafood consumption was positively associated with birth size, driven by lean fish intake, while supplementary n-3 intake was negatively associated with infant head circumference.
The birth cohort BraMat (n = 205; a sub-cohort of the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa) conducted by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health) was established to study whether prenatal exposure to toxicants from the maternal diet affects immunological health outcomes in children. We here report on the environmental pollutants polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxins, as well as acrylamide generated in food during heat treatment. The frequency of common infections, eczema or itchiness, and periods of more than 10 days of dry cough, chest tightness or wheeze (called wheeze) in the children during the first year of life was assessed by questionnaire data (n = 195). Prenatal dietary exposure to the toxicants was estimated using a validated food frequency questionnaire from MoBa. Prenatal exposure to PCBs and dioxins was found to be associated with increased risk of wheeze and exanthema subitum, and also with increased frequency of upper respiratory tract infections. We found no associations between prenatal exposure to acrylamide and the health outcomes investigated. Our results suggest that prenatal dietary exposure to dioxins and PCBs may increase the risk of wheeze and infectious diseases during the first year of life.
Prenatal methylmercury (MeHg) exposure and its possible neurodevelopmental effects in susceptible children are of concern. Studies of MeHg exposure and negative health outcomes have shown conflicting results and it has been suggested that co-exposure to other contaminants and/or nutrients in fish may confound the effect of MeHg. Our objective was to examine the association between prenatal exposure to MeHg and language and communication development at three years, adjusting for intake of fish, n-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 LCPUFAs) and co-exposure to dioxins and dioxin like polychlorinated biphenyls (dl-PCBs). We used data from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa) collected between 2002 and 2008. The study sample consisted of 46,750 mother-child pairs. MeHg exposure was calculated from reported fish intake during pregnancy by a FFQ in mid-pregnancy. Children's language and communication skills were measured by maternal report on the Dale and Bishop grammar rating and the Ages and Stages communication scale (ASQ). We estimated odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) using logistic regressions. Median MeHg exposure was 1.3µg/day, corresponding to 0.14µg/kgbw/week. An exposure level above the 90th percentile (>2.6µg/day, >0.29µg/kgbw/week) was defined as the high MeHg exposure. Results indicated an association between high MeHg exposure and unintelligible speech with an adjusted OR 2.22 (1.31, 3.72). High MeHg exposure was also associated with weaker communication skills adjusted OR 1.33 (1.03, 1.70). Additional adjustment for fish intake strengthened the associations, while adjusting for PCBs and n-3 LCPUFA from diet or from supplements had minor impact. In conclusion, significant associations were found between prenatal MeHg exposure above the 90th percentile and delayed language and communication skills in a generally low exposed population.