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Pediatrics

Fetal exposure to phthalates and bisphenols and childhood general and organ fat. A population-based prospective cohort study

A Correction to this article was published on 26 April 2022

This article has been updated

Abstract

Objectives

Fetal exposure to phthalates and bisphenols might have long-lasting effects on growth and fat development. Not much is known about the effects on general and organ fat development in childhood. We assessed the associations of fetal exposure to phthalates and bisphenols with general and organ fat measures in school-aged children.

Methods

In a population-based, prospective cohort study among 1128 mother–child pairs, we measured maternal urinary phthalate metabolites and bisphenol concentrations in first, second, and third trimester. Offspring body mass index, fat mass index by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, and visceral and pericardial fat indices and liver fat fraction were measured by magnetic resonance imaging at 10 years.

Results

After adjustment for confounders and correction for multiple testing, an interquartile range increase in first trimester phthalic acid concentrations remained associated with a 0.14 (95% confidence interval: 0.05, 0.22) standard deviation score increase in pericardial fat index. We also observed tendencies for associations of higher maternal low molecular weight phthalate urinary concentrations in second trimester with childhood pericardial fat index, but these were not significant after adjustment for multiple testing. High molecular weight phthalate, di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate, and di-n-octyl phthalate concentrations were not associated with childhood outcomes. Maternal urinary bisphenol concentrations were not associated with childhood adiposity.

Conclusions

Maternal first trimester phthalic acid concentrations are associated with increased childhood pericardial fat index at 10 years of age, whereas maternal bisphenol concentrations are not associated with childhood adiposity. We did not find significant sex-specific effects. These findings should be considered as hypothesis generating and need further replication and identification of underlying mechanisms.

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Acknowledgements

We gratefully acknowledge the contribution of the participating children, their mothers, general practitioners, hospitals, midwives, and pharmacies in Rotterdam.

Funding

The general design of the Generation R Study is made possible by financial support from the Erasmus MC, University Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, the Organization for Health Research and Development (ZonMw) and the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. This study was supported by grant RO1-ES022972 and RO1-ES029779 from the National Institutes of Health, USA. This work was supported by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement 874583 (ATHLETE Project). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. VWVJ received an additional grant from the European Research Council (ERC Consolidator Grant, ERC-2014-CoG-64916).

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Sol, C.M., Santos, S., Duijts, L. et al. Fetal exposure to phthalates and bisphenols and childhood general and organ fat. A population-based prospective cohort study. Int J Obes 44, 2225–2235 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41366-020-00672-7

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