Polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants affecting women's ability to reproduce.  

PBDE Concentrations in Women's Serum and Fecundability


Exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants is widespread, with 97% of Americans having detectable levels. Although PBDEs have been associated with reproductive and hormonal effects in animals, no human studies have examined their association with fertility.

To determine whether maternal concentrations of PBDEs in serum collected during pregnancy are associated with time to pregnancy and menstrual cycle characteristics.

Pregnant women (N = 223) living in a low-income, predominantly Mexican-immigrant community in California were interviewed to determine how many months they took to become pregnant. Blood samples were collected and analyzed for PBDEs. PBDE concentrations were lipid-adjusted and log10-transformed. Analyses were limited to PBDE congeners detected in >75% of the population (BDE-47, -99, -100, -153). Cox proportional hazards models modified for discrete time were used to obtain fecundability odds ratios (fOR) for the association of PBDEs and time to pregnancy.

All four congeners were detected in more than 95% of women. Increasing levels of BDE-47, -99, -100, -153 and the sum of these 4 congeners were all associated with longer time to pregnancy. Significantly reduced fORs were observed for BDE-100 (adjusted fOR = 0.6, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.4, 0.9), BDE-153 (adjusted fOR = 0.5, 95% CI: 0.3, 0.8), and the sum of the 4 congeners (adjusted fOR = 0.7, 95% CI: 0.5. 1.0). PBDEs were not associated with menstrual cycle characteristics.

We found significant decreases in fecundability associated with PBDE exposure in women. Future studies are needed to replicate and confirm this finding.

Harley KG, Marks AR, Chevrier J, Bradman A, Sjödin A, Eskenazi B 2010. PBDE Concentrations in Women's Serum and Fecundability. Environ Health Perspect :-. doi:10.1289/ehp.0901450


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First Published in Janury 2010

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