Early life poly- and perfluoroalkyl substance levels and adiposity in the first 2 years of life

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Abstract

Importance: 

Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are nondegradable, man-made chemicals. They accumulate in humans with potential harmful effects, especially in susceptible periods of human development, such as the first months of life. We found that, in our cohort, exclusively breastfed (EBF) infants had 3 times higher PFAS plasma levels compared with exclusively formula-fed (EFF) infants at the age of 3 months. Thus, PFASs could potentially reduce the health benefits of breastfeeding. 

Objective: 

We investigated the associations between PFAS levels at the age of 3 months and accelerated gain in fat mass during the first 6 months of life, body composition at 2 years, and whether these associations differ between EBF and EFF infants. 

Setting: 

In 372 healthy term-born infants, we longitudinally assessed anthropometrics, body composition (by air-displacement plethysmography and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry), and visceral and subcutaneous fat (by abdominal ultrasound) until the age of 2 years. 

Measures: 

The plasma levels of 5 individual PFASs were determined by liquid chromatography–electrospray ionization–tandem mass spectrometry at the age of 3 months. 

Main outcomes: 

We studied associations between PFAS levels and outcomes using multiple regression analyses. 

Results: 

Higher early life plasma perfluorooctanoic acid and total PFAS levels were associated with an accelerated gain in fat mass percentage [FM%; >0.67 SD score (SDS)] during the first 6 months of life. Higher early life PFAS levels were associated with lower fat-free mass (FFM) SDS at the age of 2 years, but not with total FM% SDS at 2 years. Furthermore, we found opposite effects of PFAS levels (negative) and exclusive breastfeeding (positive) at the age of 3 months on FFM SDS at 2 years. 

Conclusion: 

Higher PFAS levels in early life are associated with accelerated gains in FM% during the first 6 months of life and with lower FFM SDS at the age of 2 years, which have been associated with an unfavorable body composition and metabolic profile later in life. Our findings warrant further research with longer follow-up times.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)338-346
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Endocrinology
Volume190
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024

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