Arbuckle TE, MacPherson SH, Foster WG, Sathyanarayana S, Fisher M, Monnier P, Lanphear BP, Muckle G, Fraser WD. Reproductive Toxicology. 2020 Apr 10;94:31-39. doi: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2020.03.011
Exposure to the man-made chemicals perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorohexanesulfonate (PFHxS) is widespread. These perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) have been associated with androgenic endocrine-disrupting properties; however, the evidence is equivocal and few human studies have examined the association between prenatal exposure to PFASs and markers of androgenic endocrine disruption such as changes in anogenital distance (AGD).
In the MIREC cohort, PFOA, PFOS and PFHxS were analyzed in first trimester maternal plasma. AGD was measured in 205 male and 196 female newborns. The change in estimate procedure was used to identify confounders by sex and AGD in multiple linear regression models.
Geometric mean plasma concentrations (95% CI) for PFOA, PFOS and PFHxS were 1.71 (1.61, 1.81), 4.40 (4.18, 4.64) and 1.15 (1.06, 1.25) μg/L, respectively. A one-unit increase in natural log transformed PFOA was associated with a 1.36 mm (95% CI 0.30, 2.41) increase in anoscrotal distance, adjusting for household income, active smoking status during pregnancy and gestational age. However, when examined by quartiles, a non-monotonic pattern was observed with wide confidence intervals. No consistent patterns were observed between maternal PFAS concentrations and female AGDs.
This study found no clear evidence that maternal plasma concentrations of PFOS, PFOA or PFHxS were associated with shorter infant anogenital distance in males or any change in AGD in females. Whether the positive association observed between longer anoscrotal distance and PFOA is real or would have any long-lasting effect on the reproductive health of males is unknown and needs to be investigated further.