Concentrations and determinants of organochlorine levels among pregnant women in Eastern Spain

Llop, S; Ballester, F; Vizcaino, E; Murcia, M; Lopez-Espinosa, MJ; Rebagliato, M; Vioque, J; Marco, A; Grimalt, JO; (2010) Concentrations and determinants of organochlorine levels among pregnant women in Eastern Spain. The Science of the total environment. ISSN 0048-9697 DOI:

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Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) comprise a large variety of toxic substances with ample distribution. While exposure to these toxins occurs mainly through diet, maternal POP levels may be influenced by certain sociodemographic, environmental, or lifestyle factors. This is important given that these substances may have adverse effects on fetal development. The aim of this study is to examine the sociodemographic, environmental, lifestyle, and dietary determinants of the levels of hexachlorobenzene (HCB), b-hexachlorocyclohexane (b-HCH), 1,1,1-trichloro-2,2-bis(4-chlorophenyl)ethane (4,4'-DDT), 1,1-dichloro-2,2-bis(4-chlorophenyl)ethylene (4,4'-DDE), and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB congeners 118, 138, 153, 180) measured in the blood of pregnant women participating in a mother-child cohort study conducted in Valencia (Spain). The study population consisted of 541 pregnant women who formed part of the INMA (Childhood and the Environment) cohort (2004-2006). POP levels were determined in blood taken during the 12th week of pregnancy with the aid of gas chromatography with electron capture detection. Sociodemographic, environmental, and dietary information was obtained from a questionnaire. Multivariate Tobit regression models were constructed in order to assess the association between POP levels and selected covariates. The results showed that all the women had detectable levels of at least one of these compounds while in 43% of the subjects, all eight compounds were detected. The compounds found in the greatest number of women were 4,4'-DDE (100%) and PCBs 153 and 180 (95%). The most important determinants of high POP levels were the mother's age, country of origin, increased body mass index, and number of weeks of breastfeeding after previous pregnancies. With regard to diet, 4,4'-DDT and 4,4'-DDE levels increased with the intake of meat, fruit, and cereal. PCB 153 levels increased with the intake of seafood. The levels of HCB, b-HCH, 4,4'-DDT, and 4,4'-DDE observed in this study were slightly higher than in other studies, whereas the PCB levels were similar.

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Public Health and Policy > Dept of Social and Environmental Health Research
PubMed ID: 20832846
Web of Science ID: 285070700017


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