Association of Childhood Obesity With Maternal Exposure to Ambient Air Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons During Pregnancy

There are concerns that prenatal exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals increases children’s risk of obesity. African-American and Hispanic children born in the Bronx or Northern Manhattan, New York (1998–2006), whose mothers underwent personal air monitoring for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) exposure during pregnancy, were followed up to ages 5 (n ¼ 422) and 7 (n ¼ 341) years. At age 5 years, 21%of the children were obese, as were 25%of those followed to age 7 years. After adjustment for child’s sex, age atmeasurement, ethnicity, and birth weight andmaternal receipt of public assistance and prepregnancy obesity, higher prenatalPAHexposureswere significantly associated with higher childhood body size. In adjusted analyses, compared with children of mothers in the lowest tertile of PAH exposure, children of mothers in the highest exposure tertile had a 0.39-unit higher body mass index z score (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.08, 0.70) and a relative risk of 1.79 (95% CI: 1.09, 2.96) for obesity at age 5 years, and they had a 0.30-unit higher bodymass index z score (95%CI: 0.01, 0.59), a 1.93-unit higher percentage of body fat (95%CI: 0.33, 3.54), and a relative risk of 2.26 (95%CI: 1.28, 4.00) for obesity at age 7 years. The data indicate that prenatal exposure to PAHs is associated with obesity in childhood.

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