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Prenatal paraben exposure and anogenital distance and reproductive hormones during mini-puberty: A study from the Odense Child Cohort

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BACKGROUND: Parabens are added to personal care products as antimicrobial preservatives. They have been suggested to have endocrine disrupting abilities. Prenatal exposure to parabens has been associated with reproductive endpoints including reduced male anogenital distance (AGD, distance from anus to genitals), which is sensitive to prenatal anti-androgenic exposure.

OBJECTIVES: To study the associations between maternal paraben concentrations in second trimester urine and AGD and reproductive hormone concentrations at 3 months of age in offspring.

METHODS: Pregnant women from Odense, Denmark were included in early pregnancy from 2010 to 12, and their children are being followed up. Fasting spot urine samples from 536 pregnant women were analyzed for methylparaben (MeP), ethyl-paraben (EtP), iso-propylparaben (i-PrP), n-propylparaben (n-PrP), n-butylparaben (n-BuP) and benzylparaben (BzP) by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry and thereafter osmolarity adjusted. Three months after expected date of birth, AGD was measured in 452 children, and serum concentrations of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing (LH), testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone-sulphate (DHEAS), androstenedione and 17-hydroxyprogesterone (17-OHP) were measured in 198 children. Maternal paraben exposure was categorized into tertiles or below and above level of detection, and sex-stratified multiple linear regression analyses were performed with AGD or reproductive hormones as outcomes.

RESULTS: Most pregnant women had low concentrations of parabens in urine, but 10% exceeded the threshold for adverse estrogenic effects. Higher maternal paraben exposure was associated with shorter AGD in male offspring and longer AGD in girls, although only significant for MeP in boys. In addition, FSH, LH, DHEAS, 17-OHP concentrations were lower in girls with high prenatal paraben exposure, whereas no consistent pattern was found in boys.

DISCUSSION: The endocrine disrupting abilities of parabens may affect humans at vulnerable time periods during development, which may have long term impact on reproductive function. This is the first study to find these associations in girls and our findings need confirmation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Pages (from-to)145119
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2021

    Research areas

  • Anogenital distance, Parabens, Reproductive hormones, Puberty, Parabens/adverse effects, Humans, Male, Maternal Exposure, Pregnancy, Testosterone, Female, Child, Cohort Studies

ID: 61923213