Gascon M, Vrijheid M, Martinez D, Ballester F, Basterrechea M, Blarduni E, Esplugues A, Vizcaino E, Grimalt JO, Morales E, Sunyer J, Infancia y Medio Ambiente Environment and Childhood Project. Pre-natal exposure to dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene and infant lower respiratory tract infections and wheeze. Eur Respir J. 2012 May;39(5):1188-96. doi: 10.1183/09031936.00011711.

The aim of our study was to examine whether pre-natal exposure to dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE) increases the risk of lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs) and wheeze in infants. The study is based on a birth cohort of 1,455 mother-child pairs. Maternal serum concentrations of DDE, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and hexachlorobenzene (HCB) were measured during pregnancy. Parental reports on LRTI and wheeze were obtained when children were 12-14 months old. 35.4% of children developed at least one LRTI episode and 33.6% at least one wheezing episode during their first 12-14 months of life. Median DDE, PCBs and HCB concentrations were 116.3, 113.7 and 46.4 ng · g(-1) lipid, respectively. DDE concentrations were associated with LRTI risk (relative risk (RR) per 10% increase 1.11, 95% CI 1.00-1.22), also after adjustment for PCBs and HCB. In all quartiles of DDE exposure, the risk of LRTI was increased compared with the lowest quartile, but the increase was statistically significant only in the third quartile (RR 1.33, 95% CI 1.08-1.62). No association was observed for PCBs and HCB. Results were similar for wheeze. This study suggests that pre-natal DDE exposure is associated with a higher risk of LRTI and wheeze in infants independently of exposure to other organochlorine compounds.

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