Cord serum concentrations of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) in relation to weight and size at birth

Benjamin J. Apelberg, Frank R. Witter, Julie B. Herbstman, Antonia M. Calafat, Rolf U. Halden, Larry L. Needham, Lynn R. Goldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

455 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Recent studies have reported developmental toxicity among rodents dosed with perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoate (PFOA). OBJECTIVES: We examined the relationship between concentrations of PFOS and PFOA in cord serum (surrogates for in utero exposures) and gestational age, birth weight, and birth size in humans. METHODS: We conducted a hospital-based cross-sectional epidemiologic study of singleton deliveries in Baltimore, Maryland. Cord serum samples (n = 293) were analyzed for PFOS and PFOA by online solid-phase extraction, coupled with reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography-isotope dilution tandem mass spectrometry. Maternal characteristics and anthropometric measures were obtained from medical charts. RESULTS: After adjusting for potential confounders, both PFOS and PFOA were negatively associated with birth weight [per ln-unit: β = -69 g, 95% confidence interval (CI), -149 to 10 for PFOS; β= -104 g, 95% CI, -213 to 5 for PFOA], ponderal index (per ln-unit: β = -0.074 g/cm3 × 100, 95% CI, -0.123 to -0.025 for PFOS; β = -0.070 g/cm3 × 100, 95% CI, -0.138 to -0.001 for PFOA), and head circumference (per ln-unit: β = -0.32 cm, 95% CI, -0.56 to -0.07 for PFOS; β = -0.41 cm, 95% CI, -0.76 to -0.07 for PFOA). No associations were observed between either PFOS or PFOA concentrations and newborn length or gestational age. All associations were independent of cord serum lipid concentrations. CONCLUSIONS: Despite relatively low cord serum concentrations, we observed small negative associations between both PFOS and PFOA concentrations and birth weight and size. Future studies should attempt to replicate these findings in other populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1670-1676
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental health perspectives
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Birth weight
  • Cord blood
  • Epidemiology
  • Fetal exposure
  • Fetal growth
  • Gestational age
  • Head circumference
  • Human
  • Length
  • Perfluorooctane sulfonate
  • Perfluorooctanoate
  • Polyfluoroalkyl compounds
  • Ponderal index

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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