Chemicals in food packaging, clothing may be linked to infertility

January 31st, 2009 - 4:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Jan 31 (IANS) Perfluorinated chemicals or PFCs, widely used in food packaging, pesticides, clothing, upholstery, carpets and personal care products - may be linked with infertility in women. The study by University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Public Health found that women who had higher levels of perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) in their blood took longer to become pregnant than normal women.

UCLA researchers used data from the Danish National Birth Cohort to assess whether levels of PFOS and PFOA in pregnant women’s plasma were associated with a longer time to pregnancy. A total of 1,240 women were included in their analyses.

Blood samples were first taken between four and 14 weeks into the pregnancy so that concentrations of PFOS and PFOA could be measured.

The researchers also interviewed the women at around the 12th week of pregnancy to find out whether the pregnancy was planned or not and how long it took them to become pregnant.

Infertility was defined as a time to pregnancy of longer than 12 months or a situation in which infertility treatments were used to establish the pregnancy, and the results were adjusted for potential compounding factors such as age, lifestyle and socio-economic status.

Researchers divided the women’s levels of PFOS/PFOA into four quartiles and found that, compared with women with the lowest levels of exposure, the likelihood of infertility increased by 70 to 134 percent for women in the higher three quartiles of PFOS exposure and by 60 to 154 percent for women in the higher three quartiles of PFOA exposure.

“Perfluorooctanoate and perfluorooctane sulfonate were considered to be biologically inactive, but recently, animal studies have shown that these chemicals may have a variety of toxic effects on the liver, immune system and developmental and reproductive organs,” said UCLA researcher Chunyuan Fei, the study’s co-author, according to an UCLA release.

“Very few human studies have been done, but one of our earlier studies showed that PFOA, although not PFOS, may impair the growth of babies in the womb, and another two epidemiological studies linked PFOA and PFOS to impaired foetal growth.”

These findings were published online in Human Reproduction.

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