Associations of prenatal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons with pubertal timing and body composition in adolescent girls: Implications for breast cancer risk

Rebecca D. Kehm, Sabine Oskar, Parisa Tehranifar, Nur Zeinomar, Andrew G. Rundle, Julie B. Herbstman, Frederica Perera, Rachel L. Miller, Mary Beth Terry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: While animal data support an association between prenatal exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and altered mammary gland development and tumorigenesis, epidemiologic studies have only considered a few classes of EDCs in association with pubertal growth and development in girls. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) are a class of EDCs that have not been rigorously evaluated in terms of prenatal exposure and pubertal growth and development in girls. Objective: In a New York City birth cohort of Black and Hispanic girls (n = 196; recruited 1998–2006), we examined associations of prenatal PAH exposure with self-reported age at growth spurt onset, breast development onset and menarche, and clinical measures of adolescent body composition including body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio, and body fat measured at ages 11–20 years. Methods: We measured prenatal exposure to PAH using personal air monitoring data collected from backpacks worn by mothers during the third trimester of pregnancy (data available for all 196 girls) and biomarkers of benzo[α]pyrene-DNA adducts in umbilical cord blood (data available for 106 girls). We examined associations of prenatal PAH with the timing of pubertal milestones and adolescent body composition (11–20 years) using multivariable linear regression models adjusted for race/ethnicity, household public assistance status at birth, and age at outcome assessment. We also fit models further adjusted for potential mediators, including birthweight and childhood body size (BMI-for-age z-score measured at 6–8 years). Results: Girls in the highest versus lowest tertile of ambient exposure to PAH, based on a summary measure of eight carcinogenic higher-molecular weight non-volatile PAH compounds (Σ8 PAH), had a 0.90 year delay in growth spurt onset (95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.25, 1.55; n = 196), a 0.35 year delay in breast development onset (95% CI = −0.26, 0.95; n = 193), and a 0.59 year delay in menarche (95% CI = 0.06, 1.11; n = 191) in models adjusted for race/ethnicity and household public assistance at birth. The statistically significant associations for age at growth spurt onset and menarche were not impacted by adjustment for birthweight or childhood body size. No differences in BMI-for-age z-score, waist-to-hip ratio, or percent body fat were found between girls in the highest versus lowest tertile of ambient Σ8 PAH. Results were similar when we evaluated benzo[α]pyrene-DNA adduct levels. Discussion: Our results suggest that prenatal exposure to PAH might delay pubertal milestones in girls, but findings need to be replicated in other cohorts using prospectively collected data on pubertal outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110369
JournalEnvironmental Research
Volume196
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2021

Keywords

  • Breast cancer risk
  • Breast development
  • Endocrine disrupting chemicals
  • Menarche
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
  • Prenatal window of susceptibility
  • Pubertal timing

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