Prenatal exposure to persistent organic pollutants and markers of obesity and cardiometabolic risk in Spanish adolescents

Nuria Güil-Oumrait*, Damaskini Valvi, Raquel Garcia-Esteban, Monica Guxens, Jordi Sunyer, Maties Torrent, Maribel Casas, Martine Vrijheid

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Prenatal exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) has been linked to cardiometabolic (CM) risk factors in childhood, but there are no studies evaluating the persistence of these associations into adolescence, a period of relevant changes in endocrine-dependent organ systems and rapid increases in lean and fat mass. We examined the associations of prenatal POP exposures with body mass index (BMI) from age 4 to 18 years, and with other CM risk markers in adolescence. Methods: We analysed 379 children from the Spanish INMA-Menorca birth cohort study with measured cord blood POP concentrations. We calculated BMI z-scores at ages 4, 6, 11, 14 and 18 years using the WHO growth reference. Body fat % was measured at 11 and 18 years and waist-to-height ratio (WHtR) and blood pressure (BP) at 11, 14 and 18 years. We measured CM biomarkers in fasting blood collected at age 14 years and calculated a CM-risk score as the sum of the sex-, and age-specific z-scores for waist circumference, mean arterial BP, homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance, fasting blood triglycerides, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) (n = 217). Generalised estimating equations and multivariate linear regression models assessed the associations with repeated and single time-point measures, respectively. Results: Hexachlorobenzene (HCB) exposure in the third tertile, compared to the first tertile, was associated with higher BMI (β = 0.24; 95% CI: 0.01, 0.47) and WHtR z-score (β = 0.27; 95% CI: 0.04, 0.51). A continuous increase in HCB was associated with an elevated body fat % (β per 10-fold increase = 4.21; 95% CI: 0.51, 7.92), systolic BP (β = 0.32; 95% CI: 0.02, 0.64) and diastolic BP z-score (β = 0.32; 95% CI: 0.02, 0.62) across all ages, and with higher CM-risk score (β = 1.59; 95% CI: 0.02, 3.18) and lipid biomarkers (total cholesterol, triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C)) at 14 years. Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (p,p’-DDT) exposure was non-monotonically associated with BMI and systolic BP. p,p’-DDE and Σ-polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) (sum of congeners 118, 138, 153, 180) were not associated with adiposity or BP. p,p’-DDT exposure was associated with an increased CM-risk score, and ΣPCBs concentrations with LDL-C in all adolescents and with total cholesterol only in girls (p-sex interaction = 0.05). Conclusion: This first longitudinal study from 4 to 18 years suggests that the previously reported POP associations with child BMI persist later in adolescence and that prenatal POP exposures are associated with major risk factors for adult CM syndrome.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106469
JournalEnvironment international
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

We thank all study participants for their generous collaboration. This study received funding from the European Community’s Horizon 2020 programme under grant agreement no 825712, the Oberon project. The Menorca cohort was funded by grants from Instituto de Salud Carlos III (Red INMA G03/176; CB06/02/0041; 97/0588; 00/0021-2; PI061756; PS0901958; PI14/00677 incl. FEDER funds), CIBERESP, Beca de la IV convocatoria de Ayudas a la Investigación en Enfermedades Neurodegenerativas de La Caixa, and EC Contract No. QLK4-CT-2000-00263.

Maribel Casas holds a Miguel Servet fellowship (CP16/00128) funded by Instituto de Salud Carlos III and co-funded by European Social Fund “Investing in your future”. Mònica Guxens is funded by a Miguel Servet fellowship (CPII18/00018) awarded by the Spanish Institute of Health Carlos III. Damaskini Valvi is supported by the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS P30ES023515 and R21ES029328). ISGlobal acknowledges support from the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities through the “Centro de Excelencia Severo Ochoa 2019-2023” Program (CEX2018-000806-S), and from the Generalitat de Catalunya through the CERCA Program.

Publisher Copyright: © 2021 The Authors


Dive into the research topics of 'Prenatal exposure to persistent organic pollutants and markers of obesity and cardiometabolic risk in Spanish adolescents'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this