Concentrations of persistent organic pollutants in maternal and cord blood from the maternal-infant research on environmental chemicals (MIREC) cohort study (Abstract)

Fisher M, Arbuckle TE, Liang CL, LeBlanc A, Gaudreau E, Foster WG, Haines D, Davis K, Fraser WD. Environmental Health. 2016 May 4;15(1):59. doi: 10.1186/s12940-016-0143-y.


Pregnant women are an especially important population to monitor for environmental exposures given the vulnerability of the developing fetus. During pregnancy and lactation chemical body burdens may change due to the significant physiological changes that occur. Developmental exposures to some persistent organic pollutants (POPs) have been linked with adverse health outcomes.


First trimester maternal and cord blood plasma concentrations of several POPs including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), organochlorine pesticides (OCs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE)s and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) were measured in samples from 1983 pregnant women enrolled in the Maternal-Infant Research on Environmental Chemicals (MIREC) cohort. Predictors of exposure were also identified.


In maternal plasma, there was >90 % detection for the perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluoroctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS), and dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE), oxychlordane and PCB 138 and 153. Cord blood plasma had much lower detection rates with low or very limited detection for most PCBs and PBDEs. The PFASs were the most frequently detected (23–64 %) chemical class in cord plasma. In a subset of 1st and 3rd trimester paired samples, PFAS concentrations were found to be strongly correlated and had ICCs ranging from 0.64 (PFOA) to 0.83 (PFHxS). The cord:maternal plasma concentration ratios ranged from 0.14 (PFOS) to 0.87 (oxychlordane, lipid adjusted). Similar to other studies, we found parity, maternal age, income, education, smoking status, pre-pregnancy BMI and fish consumption to be significant predictors for most chemicals. Those participants who were foreign-born had significantly higher concentrations of organochlorinated pesticides and PCBs.


In the MIREC study, multiple chemical contaminants were quantified in the plasma of pregnant women. In cord plasma PFOA had the highest detection rate. However, compared to other Canadian and international population studies, the MIREC participants had lower contaminant concentrations of these substances.