BACKGROUND: Several per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have been phased out due to their adverse effects, and replaced by the short-chain perfluorobutanesulfonic acid (PFBS). However, the long-term impacts of PFBS on human health are unknown.
OBJECTIVE: We aimed to investigate the association between prenatal exposure to PFAS, especially PFBS and childhood adiposity at 5 years of age.
METHODS: We conducted a prospective birth cohort study involving 1,140 pregnant women from 2012 to 2017 in Shanghai. Fetal umbilical cord blood was collected at birth. A total of 404 children (196 girls) completed the adiposity measurements using a bioelectrical impedance analysis method and cord plasma PFAS measurements using LC-MS/MS. Multivariable linear models after adjustment for potential confounders were used to evaluate the associations between PFAS and childhood adiposity.
RESULTS: The median concentration of PFAS in the cord plasma ranged from 0.05 (PFBS) to 6.74 ng/mL (PFOA). Results of multivariable linear regression found that in girls, PFBS had a significant positive association with waist circumference and waist to height ratio (P-values < 0.05). Girls in the highest tertile of PFBS concentrations had more fat mass, as well as higher body fat percentage, waist circumference, and waist to height ratio compared to those in the lowest tertile. However, girls in the second tertile of PFDoA had lower body fat percentage, waist circumference and fat mass.
CONCLUSIONS: Adiposity at 5 years of age shows a positive association with prenatal exposure to PFBS in girls. These findings need to be further verified in larger prospective studies.