Epidemic-specific association of maternal exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and their components with maternal glucose metabolism: A cross-sectional analysis in a birth cohort from Hong Kong

Aimin Yang, Claudia H.T. Tam, Kwun Kiu Wong, Risa Ozaki, William L. Lowe Jr, Boyd E. Metzger, Elaine Chow, Wing Hung Tam, Chris K.C. Wong, Ronald C.W. Ma*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are persistent chemicals that have been linked to increased risk of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) and may affect glucose metabolisms during pregnancy. We examined the associations between maternal PFAS exposure and maternal glucose metabolisms and GDM risk among 1601 mothers who joined the Hyperglycaemia-and-Adverse-Pregnancy-Outcome (HAPO) Study in Hong Kong in 2001–2006. All mothers underwent a 75 g-oral-glucose-tolerance test at 24–32 weeks of gestation. We measured serum concentrations of six PFAS biomarkers using high-performance liquid-chromatography-coupled-with-tandem-mass-spectrometry (LC-MS-MS). We fitted conventional and advanced models (quantile-g-computation [qgcomp] and Bayesian-kernel machine regression [BKMR]) to assess the associations of individual and a mixture of PFAS with glycaemic traits. Subgroup analyses were performed based on the enrollment period by the severe-acute-respiratory-syndrome (SARS) epidemic periods in Hong Kong between March 2003 and May 2004. PFOS and PFOA were the main components of PFAS mixture among 1601 pregnant women in the Hong Kong HAPO study, with significantly higher median PFOS concentrations (19.09 ng/mL), compared to Chinese pregnant women (9.40 ng/mL) and US women (5.27 ng/mL). Maternal exposure to PFAS mixture was associated with higher HbA1c in the qgcomp (β = 0.04, 95 % CI: 0.01–0.06) model. We did not observe significant associations of PFAS mixture with fasting plasma glucose (PG), 1-h and 2-h PG in either model, except for 2-h PG in the qgcmop model (β = 0.074, 95 % CI: 0.01–0.15). PFOS was the primary contributor to the overall positive effects on HbA1c. Epidemic-specific analyses showed specific associations between PFAS exposure and the odds of GDM in the pre-SARS epidemic period. The median concentration of PFOS was highest during the peri-SARS epidemic (21.2 [14.5–43.6] ng/mL) compared with the pre-SARS (12.3 [9.2–19.9] ng/mL) and post-SARS (20.3 [14.2–46.3] ng/mL) epidemic periods. Potential interactions and exposure-response relationships between PFOA and PFNA with elevated HbA1c were observed in the peri-SARS period in BKMR model. Maternal exposure to PFAS mixture was associated with altered glucose metabolism during pregnancy. SARS epidemic-specific associations call for further studies on its long-term adverse health effects, especially potential modified associations by lifestyle changes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Article number170220
Number of pages12
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume917
Early online date24 Jan 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2024

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

User-Defined Keywords

  • Gestational diabetes mellitus
  • Glycaemic
  • HbA1c
  • Metabolomics
  • Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)
  • PFOS

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