A birth cohort study to investigate the association between prenatal phthalate and bisphenol A exposures and fetal markers of metabolic dysfunction (Abstract)

Ashley-Martin J, Dodds L, Arbuckle TE, Ettinger AS, Shapiro G, Fisher M, Morisset AS, Taback S, Bouchard MF, Monnier P, Dallaire R, Fraser WD. Environmental Health. 2014;13:84. doi: 10.1186/1476-069X-13-84


Obesity and type-2 diabetes are on the rise and in utero exposure to environmental contaminants is a suspected contributing factor. Our objective was to examine associations between prenatal exposure to potential endocrine disrupting chemicals and markers of fetal metabolic dysfunction.


The Maternal-Infant Research on Environmental Chemicals Study (MIREC) recruited 2001 women during the first trimester of pregnancy from 10 Canadian sites. First trimester maternal urine was measured for 11 phthalate metabolites and bisphenol A (BPA). Leptin and adioponectin measured in 1,363 available umbilical cord blood samples served as markers of metabolic function. Restricted cubic spline curves were used to assess the relationship between continuous measures of phthalate and BPA levels and cord blood adipokines. Polytomous logistic regression models were used to estimate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for the association between phthalates and BPA and both high (≥90th percentile) and low (≤10th percentile) fetal adiponectin and leptin, adjusting for confounding factors. Analyses were conducted for all subjects, overall, and separately by fetal sex.


Leptin was significantly higher in female than male infants. We observed an inverse, non-linear relationship between BPA and adiponectin among males in the restricted cubic spline and linear regression analysis. Mono-(3-carboxypropyl) (MCPP) was associated with increased odds of high leptin among males in the polytomous logistic regression models (4th quartile OR = 3.5 95% CI: 1.1-11.6).


Our findings contribute to the growing body of evidence examining the influence of early life exposure on metabolic regulation and function. Associations between maternal exposure to chemicals and markers of metabolic function appear to be potentially sex specific. However, further investigation is required to determine whether in utero and childhood exposure to BPA and phthalates are associated with metabolic dysfunctions later in life.