Prenatal exposure to multiple environmental chemicals and birth size

Huan Chen, Wenxin Zhang, Xiaojie Sun, Yanqiu Zhou, Jiufeng Li, Hongzhi Zhao, Wei Xia, Shunqing Xu, Zongwei Cai, Yuanyuan Li*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Epidemiological studies addressing the combined effects of exposure to chemical mixtures at different stages of pregnancy on birth size are scarce. Objective: To evaluate the association between prenatal exposure to chemical mixtures and birth size. Methods: Our previous study repeatedly measured the urinary concentrations of 34 chemical substances among 743 pregnant women and identified three distinct clusters of exposed population and six dominant principal components of exposed chemicals in each trimester. In this study, we assessed the associations of these exposure profiles with birth weight, birth length, and ponderal index using multivariable linear regression. Results: We found that compared with women in cluster 1 (lower urinary chemical concentrations), women in cluster 2 (higher urinary concentrations of metals, benzothiazole, benzotriazole, and some phenols), and women in cluster 3 (higher urinary concentrations of phthalates) were more likely to give birth to children with higher birth length [0.23 cm (95% CI: −0.03, 0.49); 0.29 cm (95%CI: 0.03, 0.54), respectively]. This association was observed only in 1st trimester. In addition, prenatal exposure to PC3 (higher benzophenones loading) was associated with reduced birth length across pregnancy [−0.07 cm (95% CI: −0.18, 0.03) in 1st and 2nd trimester; −0.13 cm (95% CI: −0.24, −0.03) in 3rd trimester]. Exposure to PC6 (higher thallium and BPA loading in 2nd trimester) was associated with increased birth length [0.15 cm (95% CI: 0.05, 0.26)]. Compared with other outcomes, associations of both clusters and PCs with birth length were stronger, and these associations were more pronounced in boys. Impact Statement: Exposure to multiple chemicals simultaneously, the actual exposure situation of pregnant women, was associated with birth size, indicating that chemical mixtures should be taken more seriously when studying the health effects of pollutants.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Jul 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

User-Defined Keywords

  • Birth size
  • K-means clustering
  • Multiple environmental chemicals
  • Prenatal exposure
  • Principal component analysis


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