Prenatal Exposure to Perfluoroalkyl Substances and the Risk of Congenital Cerebral Palsy in Children

Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are persistent pollutants and endocrine disruptors that may affect fetal brain development. We investigated whether prenatal exposure to PFASs increases the risk of congenital cerebral palsy (CP). The source population for this study includes 83,389 liveborn singletons and mothers enrolled in the Danish National Birth Cohort during 1996–2002. We identified 156 CP cases by linking the cohort to the Danish National Cerebral Palsy Register, and we randomly selected 550 controls using a case-cohort design. We measured 16 PFASs in maternal plasma collected in early or midpregnancy, and 6 PFASs were quantifiable in more than 90% of the samples. We found a higher risk of CP in boys with higher maternal PFAS levels; per 1-unit (natural-log ng/mL) increase, the risk ratios were 1.7 (95% confidence interval: 1.0, 2.8) for perfluorooctane sulfonate and 2.1 (95% confidence interval: 1.2, 3.6) for perfluorooctanoic acid. We also observed a dose-response pattern of CP risk in boys per quartile of maternal level of perfluorooctane sulfonate and perfluorooctanoic acid (P for trend < 0.01). PFASs were associated with both unilateral and bilateral spastic CP subphenotypes. No association between PFASs and CP was found in girls. Prenatal exposures to PFASs may increase the risk of CP in boys, but the finding is novel and replication is needed.

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