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Early Life Exposure to Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals: Implications for Child Birthweight, Growth, and Adiposity


Childhood obesity is one of the greatest public health problems facing children today. Research has shown that obesity has origins in the prenatal and early life period. These times of rapid growth and development may be critical to the risk of adult disease, with the possibility of environmental exposures having lasting effects. Many studies have found associations between the fetal environment and subsequent health outcomes. Recent research suggests that certain environmental chemicals may have obesogenic effects. Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), including phthalates and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), are a set of environmental exposures of particular concern because of their ubiquity of exposure and their ability to interfere with the developing endocrine system. Because of the serious health implications of obesity, it is imperative to understand and quantify the effects of modifiable risk factors such as exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals on fetal and childhood growth and childhood adiposity. The purpose of this dissertation was to analyze the associations between prenatal phthalate and PFAS exposure and birth outcomes as well as subsequent growth and adiposity. All three papers of this dissertation used data from the HOME Study, a prospective pregnancy and birth cohort of 389 mother-child pairs, based in Cincinnati, OH. I found no association between prenatal phthalate exposure and birth outcomes and did not find strong evidence of an obesogenic effect of early life phthalate exposure, although inverse associations were observed between prenatal and early childhood MBzP concentrations and adiposity at age 8 and slightly positive associations were observed between MEP concentrations at 5 and 8 years of age and adiposity at 8 years of age. I also found evidence of inverse associations between prenatal PFAS exposure and infant birthweight and subsequent early childhood weight and adiposity. These findings suggest that, while not always in the hypothesized direction of being obesogens, prenatal and early life exposures to phthalates and PFAS may be associated with some aspects of fetal and child growth.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Brown University, 2016

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Shoaff, Jessica Ruhlman, "Early Life Exposure to Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals: Implications for Child Birthweight, Growth, and Adiposity" (2016). Epidemiology Theses and Dissertations. Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library.