BACKGROUND: Experimental studies in rodents suggest that polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) may contribute to depressive symptoms. Few studies have examined the impact of these chemicals on depression in adults.
OBJECTIVE: To examine the associations between serum PBDE and PFAS concentrations during pregnancy and repeated measures of depressive symptoms in women assessed from pregnancy to 8 years postpartum.
METHODS: This study was based on 377 women from the Health Outcomes and Measures of the Environment Study, a birth cohort in Cincinnati, OH (USA). PBDEs (BDE-28, -47, -99, -100, -153, and ∑PBDEs) and PFAS (perfluorooctanoate [PFOA], perfluorooctane sulfonate [PFOS], perfluorohexane sulfonate [PFHxS], perfluorononanoate [PFNA]) were quantified in maternal serum at 16 ± 3 weeks gestation. Depressive symptoms were measured using the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II) at ~20 weeks gestation and up to seven times during postpartum visits (4 weeks, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 8 years). We used linear mixed models to estimate covariate-adjusted associations between chemical concentrations and repeated measures of BDI-II. Multinomial logistic regression models were used to estimate the relative risk ratios of having a medium or high depression trajectory.
RESULTS: We found that a 10-fold increase in BDE-28 at 16 ± 3 weeks gestation was associated with significantly increased BDI-II scores (β = 2.5 points, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.8, 4.2) from pregnancy to 8 years postpartum. Significant positive associations were also observed with BDE-47, -100, -153, and ∑PBDEs. A 10-fold increase in ∑PBDEs was associated with a 4.6-fold increased risk (95% CI 1.8, 11.8) of a high trajectory for BDI-II compared to a low trajectory. We observed no significant associations between PFAS and BDI-II scores.
CONCLUSION: PBDEs during pregnancy were associated with more depressive symptoms among women in this cohort.