Prenatal exposure to PCB-153, p,p'-DDE and birth outcomes in 9000 mother-child pairs: Exposure-response relationship and effect modifiers

Maribel Casas, Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, David Martínez, Ferran Ballester, Xavier Basagaña, Mikel Basterrechea, Leda Chatzi, Cécile Chevrier, Merete Eggesbø, Mariana F. Fernandez, Eva Govarts, Mònica Guxens, Joan O. Grimalt, Irva Hertz-Picciotto, Nina Iszatt, Monika Kasper-Sonnenberg, Hannu Kiviranta, Manolis Kogevinas, Lubica Palkovicova, Ulrich RanftGreet Schoeters, Evridiki Patelarou, Maria Skaalum Petersen, Maties Torrent, Tomas Trnovec, Damaskini Valvi, Gunnar Vase Toft, Pál Weihe, Nynke Weisglas-Kuperus, Michael Wilhelm, Jürgen Wittsiepe, Martine Vrijheid, Jens Peter Bonde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Low-level exposure to polychlorinated biphenyl-153 (PCB-153) and dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (. p-. p'-DDE) can impair fetal growth; however, the exposure-response relationship and effect modifiers of such association are not well established. This study is an extension of an earlier European meta-analysis. Our aim was to explore exposure-response relationship between PCB-153 and p-. p'-DDE and birth outcomes; to evaluate whether any no exposure-effect level and susceptible subgroups exist; and to assess the role of maternal gestational weight gain (GWG). We used a pooled dataset of 9377 mother-child pairs enrolled in 14 study populations from 11 European birth cohorts. General additive models were used to evaluate the shape of the relationships between organochlorine compounds and birth outcomes. We observed an inverse linear exposure-response relationship between prenatal exposure to PCB-153 and birth weight [decline of 194. g (95% CI -. 314, -. 74) per 1. μg/L increase in PCB-153]. We showed effects on birth weight over the entire exposure range, including at low levels. This reduction seems to be stronger among children of mothers who were non-Caucasian or had smoked during pregnancy. The most susceptible subgroup was girls whose mothers smoked during pregnancy. After adjusting for absolute GWG or estimated fat mass, a reduction in birth weight was still observed. This study suggests that the association between low-level exposure to PCB-153 and birth weight exists and follows an inverse linear exposure-response relationship with effects even at low levels, and that maternal smoking and ethnicity modify this association.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-31
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironment international
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomarkers of exposure
  • Birth weight
  • Dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE)
  • Persistent organic pollutants
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)


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