Persistent Environmental Pollutants and Couple Fecundity: The LIFE Study
Germaine M. Buck Louis,1 Rajeshwari Sundaram,1 Enrique F. Schisterman,1 Anne M. Sweeney,2 Courtney D. Lynch,3 Robert E. Gore-Langton,4 José Maisog,1 Sungduk Kim,1 Zhen Chen,1 and Dana B. Barr5
1Division of Epidemiology, Statistics and Prevention Research, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Rockville, Maryland, USA; 2Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Rural Public Health, Texas A & M Health Science Center, College Station, Texas, USA; 3Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, College of Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA; 4The EMMES Corporation, Rockville, Maryland, USA; 5Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Background: Evidence suggesting that persistent environmental pollutants may be reproductive toxicants underscores the need for prospective studies of couples for whom exposures are measured.
Objectives: We examined the relationship between selected persistent pollutants and couple fecundity as measured by time to pregnancy.
Methods: A cohort of 501 couples who discontinued contraception to become pregnant was prospectively followed for 12 months of trying to conceive or until a human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) test confirmed pregnancy. Couples completed daily journals on lifestyle and provided biospecimens for the quantification of 9 organochlorine pesticides, 1 polybrominated biphenyl, 10 polybrominated diphenyl ethers, 36 polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and 7 perfluorochemicals (PFCs) in serum. Using Cox models for discrete time, we estimated fecundability odds ratios (FORs) and 95% CIs separately for each partner’s concentrations adjusting for age, body mass index, serum cotinine, serum lipids (except for PFCs), and study site (Michigan or Texas); sensitivity models were further adjusted for left truncation or time off of contraception (≤ 2 months) before enrollment.
Results: The adjusted reduction in fecundability associated with standard deviation increases in log-transformed serum concentrations ranged between 18% and 21% for PCB congeners 118, 167, 209, and perfluorooctane sulfonamide in females; and between 17% and 29% for p,p´‑DDE and PCB congeners 138, 156, 157, 167, 170, 172, and 209 in males. The strongest associations were observed for PCB 167 (FOR 0.79; 95% CI: 0.64, 0.97) in females and PCB 138 (FOR = 0.71; 95% CI: 0.52, 0.98) in males.
Conclusions: In this couple-based prospective cohort study with preconception enrollment and quantification of exposures in both female and male partners, we observed that a subset of persistent environmental chemicals were associated with reduced fecundity.
Key words: conception, cotinine, fecundity, organochlorine pesticides, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, polychlorinated biphenyls, perfluorochemicals, time to pregnancy.
Environ Health Perspect 121:231–236 (2013). http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1205301 [Online 14 November 2012]
Address correspondence to G.M. Buck Louis, Division of Epidemiology, Statistics and Prevention Research, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 6100 Executive Blvd., Room 7B03, Rockville, MD 20852 USA. Telephone: (301) 496-6155. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Supplemental Material is available online (http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1205301).
We acknowledge the technical assistance of A. Calafat and A. Sjödin, and the staff of the Division of Laboratory Sciences, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who performed the analytic chemistry work for this study under a Memorandum of Understanding with the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).
This research was supported by the Intramural Research Program of the NICHD (contracts N01-HD-3-3355, N01-HD-3-3356, and NOH-HD-3-3358).
R.E.G.-L. is employed by The EMMES Corporation. The authors declare they have no actual or potential competing financial interests.
Received 3 April 2012; Accepted 31 October 2012; Online 14 November 2012.
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