Manzano-Salgado CB, Granum B, Lopez-Espinosa MJ, Ballester F, Iniguez C, Gascon M, Martinez D, Guxens M, Basterretxea M, Zabaleta C, Schettgen T, Sunyer J, Vrijheid M, Casas M. Prenatal exposure to perfluoroalkyl substances, immune-related outcomes, and lung function in children from a Spanish birth cohort study. Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2019 Jul;222(6):945-54. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2019.06.005

BACKGROUND: Prenatal exposure to perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) has been associated with impaired immune and respiratory health during childhood but the evidence is inconsistent and limited for lung function. We studied the association between prenatal PFASs exposure and immune and respiratory health, including lung function, up to age 7 years in the Spanish INMA birth cohort study.

METHODS: We assessed four PFASs in maternal plasma samples collected during the 1st trimester of pregnancy (years: 2003-2008): perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS), perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanoate (PFOA), and perfluorononanoate (PFNA). Mothers reported the occurrence (yes/no) of lower respiratory tract infections, wheezing, asthma, and eczema in the previous 12 months at 1.5 and 4 years of the child (n = 1188) and at 7 years (n = 1071). At ages 4 (n = 503) and 7 (n = 992) years lung function was assessed using spirometry tests.

RESULTS: The most abundant PFASs were PFOS and PFOA (geometric means: 5.80 and 2.31 ng/mL, respectively). The relative risk of asthma during childhood per each doubling in PFNA concentration was 0.74 (95 CI%: 0.57, 0.96). The relative risk of eczema during childhood per every doubling in PFOS concentration was 0.86 (95 CI%: 0.75, 0.98). Higher PFOA concentrations were associated with lower forced vital capacity and lower forced expiratory volume in 1 s z-scores at 4 years [β (95 CI %): -0.17 (-0.34, -0.01) and -0.13 (-0.29, 0.03), respectively], but not at 7 years.

CONCLUSION: This longitudinal study suggests that different PFASs may affect the developing immune and respiratory systems differently. Prenatal exposure to PFNA and PFOS may be associated with reduced risk of respiratory and immune outcomes, particularly asthma and eczema whereas exposure to PFOA may be associated with reduced lung function in young children. These mixed results need to be replicated in follow-up studies at later ages.

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