Pre and Postnatal Polybrominated Diphenyl Ether Concentrations in Relation to Thyroid Parameters Measured During Early Childhood

Whitney Cowell, Andreas Sjodin, Richard L Jones, Ya Wang, Shuang Wang, Robin Whyatt, Pam Factor-Litvak, Gary Bradwin, Abeer Hassoun, Sharon Oberfield, Julie Herbstman
Thyroid: Official Journal of the American Thyroid Association 2019 March 23

BACKGROUND: Penta brominated diphenyl ethers (PentaBDEs) are endocrine disrupting chemicals that structurally resemble thyroid hormones and were widely used as flame retardants in household consumer products from 1975-2004. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) cross the placenta and evidence suggests that for many children, body burdens may peak during toddler years. We aimed to understand the impact of exposure timing by examining both pre and postnatal exposure to BDE-47, the predominant PentaBDE congener detected in humans, in relation to thyroid hormone parameters measured during early childhood.

METHODS: The Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health Mothers and Newborns Study is a prospective birth cohort of African American and Dominican maternal-child pairs. Pregnant women were recruited from two prenatal clinics in Northern Manhattan and the South Bronx between 1998 and 2006. Participants included 158 children with 1) plasma PBDE concentrations measured at birth and toddler years (age 2-3), and 2) serum thyroid parameters measured at 3 and/or 5 years. Outcomes included concentrations of serum thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), free thyroxine (fT4) and total thyroxine (T4).

RESULTS: Children with high exposure to BDE-47 during the prenatal period (-17%, 95% CI -29, -2) or toddler age (-19%, 95% CI: -31, -5) had significantly lower geometric mean TSH levels compared to children with low BDE-47 exposure throughout early life. Associations with T4 were also inverse, however, they did not reach statistical significance at the p=0.05 level. Sex-stratified models suggest associations with postnatal exposure may be stronger among boys compared to girls.

CONCLUSIONS: The thyroid regulatory system may be sensitive to BDE-47 during prenatal and postnatal periods.

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