Chemical in Packaging and Stain-Resistant Products Linked To Childhood Obesity

Joseph M. Braun PhD Assistant Professor Department of Epidemiology in the Program in Public Health Brown University

Dr. Braun

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Joseph M. Braun PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Epidemiology in the Program in Public Health
Brown University

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Braun:  Perfluoroalkyl substances are a class of chemicals used to produce stain/water repellent textiles, fire fighting foams, and non-stick coatings. Virtually all people in the US have measurable levels of several different perfluoroalkyl substances in their blood. There is concern that early life exposure to these chemicals can increase the risk of obesity by reducing fetal growth or promoting adipogenesis.

What are the main findings?

Dr. Braun:  Pregnant women in our study had perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) concentrations in their blood that were over 2-fold higher than pregnant women in the United States (median: 5.3 vs. 2.3 ng/mL) during the same time period (2003-2006).

Children born to women with higher serum PFOA concentrations during pregnancy had a higher body mass index, greater waist circumference, and more body fat at 8 years of age compared to children born to women with lower serum PFOA concentrations. In addition, children born to women with higher serum PFOA concentrations during pregnancy gained more fat mass between 2 and 8 years of age than children born to women with lower PFOA concentrations.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Braun:  While the majority of our exposure to perfluoroalkyl substances comes from diet, we are not sure what specific sources are most important. Thus, it is advisable to eat a balanced and healthy diet. There are several things that concerned parents or women of child-bearing age could do to reduce their perfluoroalkyl substance exposure. First they could not use stain/water repellent products or sprays.

Second, they could use a granular activated carbon water filter in their home, which is effective in removing these chemicals from drinking water. Finally, they could avoid foods that are served or cooked in paper packaging (e.g., microwave popcorn bags).

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Additional follow-up at older ages with more sophisticated measures of adiposity to determine if children with higher prenatal PFOA exposure continue to experience increased gains in body fat. In addition, additional research examining the relationship between prenatal PFOA exposure and cardiometabolic risk factors (e.g., glucose homeostasis) are necessary.

Citation:

Prenatal perfluoroalkyl substance exposure and child adiposity at 8 years of age:
The HOME study

Joseph M Braun, Aimin Chen, Megan E Romano, Antonia M Calafat, Glenys M Webster, Kimberly Yolton, Bruce P Lanphear

Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.). Pubmed Record
DOI: 10.1002/oby.21258

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Joseph M. Braun PhD (2015). Chemical in Packaging and Stain-Resistant Products Linked To Childhood Obesity