Science Current Events | Science News |

Chemical exposure in the womb from household items may contribute to obesity

August 31, 2012

Pregnant women who are highly exposed to common environmental chemicals - polyfluoroalkyl compounds (PFCs) - have babies that are smaller at birth and larger at 20 months of age, according to a study from Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health published online in the August 30 edition of Environmental Health Perspectives.

PFCs are used in the production of fluoropolymers and are found widely in protective coatings of packaging products, clothes, furniture and non-stick cookware. They are persistent compounds found abundantly in the environment and human exposure is common. PFCs have been detected in human sera, breast milk and cord blood.

The study, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, included 447 British girls and their mothers in the United Kingdom participating in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, a large-scale health research project that has provided a vast amount of genetic and environmental information since it began in the early 1990s.

The researchers found that even though girls with higher exposure were smaller than average (43rd percentile) at birth, they were heavier than average (58th percentile) by 20 months of age. The authors say this path may lead to obesity at older ages.

"Previous animal and human research suggests prenatal exposures to PFCs may have harmful effects on fetal and postnatal growth," says lead researcher Michele Marcus, MPH, PhD, a professor of epidemiology in Emory's Rollins School of Public Health and the assistant program director at Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research.

"Our findings are consistent with these studies and emerging evidence that chemicals in our environment are contributing to obesity and diabetes and demonstrate that this trajectory is set very early in life for those exposed."

According to Marcus, a recent study in Denmark found that women exposed to PFCs in the womb were more likely to be overweight at age 20. And experimental studies with mice have shown that exposure in the womb led to higher levels of insulin and heavier body weight in adulthood.

Marcus and her colleagues focused on the three most studied PFCs: perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFS), perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) and perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS).

The researchers measured maternal serum concentrations of PFOS, PFOA and PFHxS during pregnancy and obtained data on the weight and length of the girls at birth, 2, 9 and 20 months. They explored associations between prenatal PFC concentrations and weight at birth as well as changes in weight-for-age scores between birth and 20 months.

Emory University

Related Public Health Current Events and Public Health News Articles

Endocrine experts call for more research into leading cause of infertility
More research is needed to better understand polycystic ovary syndrome - one of the leading causes of infertility, according to the Scientific Statement issued by the Endocrine Society.

Blood from small children 'remembers' prenatal smoking exposure
New Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health-led research finds that blood taken from children up to the age of five contains molecular evidence about whether their mothers smoked during pregnancy.

UMD study explains racial and ethnic disparities in unintended pregnancy
A new study from the University of Maryland School of Public Health examined why African American and Hispanic women have higher rates of unintended pregnancy than White women.

Independent panel of global experts calls for critical reforms to prevent future pandemics
An independent group of 19 experts from around the globe, convened by the Harvard Global Health Institute (HGHI) and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, has issued a hard-hitting analysis of the global response to the 2014-15 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, published in The Lancet.

UEA leads first systematic review of Ebola risks
Looking after people with late-stage Ebola at home puts people at greatest risk of catching it themselves - according to research from the University of East Anglia.

Hiding tobacco products at convenience stores reduces teens' risk of future tobacco use
Keeping tobacco products out of view in convenience stores significantly reduces teenagers' susceptibility to future cigarette use compared to when tobacco advertising and products are visible, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

City-wide effort boosts NYC's colorectal cancer screening rates
A coalition formed by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) which included a team from Mount Sinai to increase colorectal cancer screening rates in New York City resulted in a 40 percent increase in screening rates over four years.

10 million lives saved and 45 million TB cases avoided with Stop TB Partnership 5-year investment plan
The world is losing its battle with tuberculosis (TB), which is now the biggest infectious killer globally, causing 1.5 million deaths every year.

Improving fitness may counteract brain atrophy in older adults, UMD study shows
Older adults that improved their fitness through a moderate intensity exercise program increased the thickness of their brain's cortex, the outer layer of the brain that typically atrophies with Alzheimer's disease.

Walking faster or longer linked to significant cardiovascular benefits in older adults
In a large prospective community-based study of older Americans, modest physical activity was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
More Public Health Current Events and Public Health News Articles

To Repair the World: Paul Farmer Speaks to the Next Generation (California Series in Public Anthropology)

To Repair the World: Paul Farmer Speaks to the Next Generation (California Series in Public Anthropology)
by Paul Farmer (Author), Jonathan Weigel (Editor), Bill Clinton (Editor)

Here, for the first time, is a collection of short speeches by the charismatic doctor and social activist Paul Farmer. One of the most passionate and influential voices for global health equity and social justice, Farmer encourages young people to tackle the greatest challenges of our times. Engaging, often humorous, and always inspiring, these speeches bring to light the brilliance and force of Farmer’s vision in a single, accessible volume.

A must-read for graduates, students, and everyone seeking to help bend the arc of history toward justice, To Repair the World:

• Challenges readers to counter failures of imagination that keep billions of people without access to health care, safe drinking water, decent schools, and other basic human rights;

• ...

Introduction To Public Health

Introduction To Public Health
by Mary-Jane Schneider (Author)

Introduction to Public Health, Fourth Edition offers a thorough, accessible overview of the expanding field of public health for students new to its concepts and actors. Written in engaging, nontechnical language, this best-selling text explains in clear terms the multi-disciplinary strategies and methods used for measuring, assessing, and promoting public health. Packed with illustrative real-world examples, this updated edition provides students with informative discussions of the current technical issues and practical obstacles facing public health practitioners and policymakers alike. Through coverage of new approaches to research and data collection, current best practices in the field, and the social and ethical challenges of devising public policy, Introduction to Public Health,...

Public Health: What It Is and How It Works

Public Health: What It Is and How It Works
by Bernard J. Turnock (Author)

Using a straightforward systems approach, Public Health: What It Is and How It Works explores the inner workings of the complex, modern U.S. public health system―what it is, what it does, how it works, and why it is important. The book covers the origins and development of the modern pubic health system; the relationship of public health to the overall health system; how the system is organized at the federal, state, and local levels; its core functions and how well these are currently being addressed; evidence-based practice and an approach to program planning and evaluation for public health interventions; public health activities such as epidemiological investigation, biomedical research, environmental assessment, policy development, and more. Updated and New Information in the...

101 Careers in Public Health

101 Careers in Public Health
by Beth Seltzer MD MPH (Author)

First rate advice. --APHA What sort of training do you need to work in public health? What kinds of jobs are out there right now? And what exactly is an epidemiologist, anyway? Answering these questions and more, this career guide provides an overview of the numerous options in public health and the many different roads to get there. Whether you're a student who wants to launch a career or a professional looking to change careers, this guide offers an easy introduction to the field. It details the training, salary ranges, and degree requirements for each job, and alerts readers to alternative pathways beyond the traditional MPH....

The Health Gap: The Challenge of an Unequal World

The Health Gap: The Challenge of an Unequal World
by Michael Marmot (Author)

In Baltimore's inner-city neighborhood of Upton/Druid Heights, a man's life expectancy is sixty-three; not far away, in the Greater Roland Park/Poplar neighborhood, life expectancy is eighty-three. The same twenty-year avoidable disparity exists in the Calton and Lenzie neighborhoods of Glasgow, and in other cities around the world.In Sierra Leone, one in 21 fifteen-year-old women will die in her fertile years of a maternal-related cause; in Italy, the figure is one in 17,100; but in the United States, which spends more on healthcare than any other country in the world, it is one in 1,800. Why?Dramatic differences in health are not a simple matter of rich and poor; poverty alone doesn't drive ill health, but inequality does. Indeed, suicide, heart disease, lung disease, obesity, and...

Behavioral Economics and Public Health

Behavioral Economics and Public Health
by Christina A. Roberto (Editor), Ichiro Kawachi (Editor)

Behavioral economics has potential to offer novel solutions to some of today's most pressing public health problems: How do we persuade people to eat healthy and lose weight? How can health professionals communicate health risks in a way that is heeded? How can food labeling be modified to inform healthy food choices?

Behavioral Economics and Public Health is the first book to apply the groundbreaking insights of behavioral economics to the persisting problems of health behaviors and behavior change. In addition to providing a primer on the behavioral economics principles that are most relevant to public health, this book offers details on how these principles can be employed to mitigating the world's greatest health threats, including obesity, smoking, risky sexual behavior, and...

A History of Public Health

A History of Public Health
by George Rosen (Author), Elizabeth Fee (Introduction), Pascal James Imperato (Introduction)

Since publication in 1958, George Rosen’s classic book has been regarded as the essential international history of public health. Describing the development of public health in classical Greece, imperial Rome, England, Europe, the United States, and elsewhere, Rosen illuminates the lives and contributions of the field’s great figures. He considers such community health problems as infectious disease, water supply and sewage disposal, maternal and child health, nutrition, and occupational disease and injury. And he assesses the public health landscape of health education, public health administration, epidemiological theory, communicable disease control, medical care, statistics, public policy, and medical geography.Rosen, writing in the 1950s, may have had good reason to believe that...

Jekel's Epidemiology, Biostatistics, Preventive Medicine, and Public Health: With STUDENT CONSULT Online Access, 4e (Jekel's Epidemiology, Biostatistics, Preventive Medicine, Public Health)

Jekel's Epidemiology, Biostatistics, Preventive Medicine, and Public Health: With STUDENT CONSULT Online Access, 4e (Jekel's Epidemiology, Biostatistics, Preventive Medicine, Public Health)
by David L. Katz MD MPH (Author), Dorothea Wild MD MPH Dr. Med (Author), Joann G. Elmore MD MPH (Author), Sean C Lucan MD MPH MS (Author)

Jekel's Epidemiology, Biostatistics, Preventive Medicine, and Public Health is the only textbook that combines the disciplines of medical epidemiology, biostatistics, preventive medicine, and public health in one convenient resource. Written by renowned epidemiologists and public health experts, this text presents the information you need with a clinical focus, using real-life medical examples throughout. With review questions in each chapter to maximize knowledge retention and target key areas of review, it serves as an outstanding resource for USMLE prep - and is recommended by the American Board of Preventive Medicine as a top review source for its core specialty examination! Grasp and retain vital information easily thanks to quick-reference boxes that showcase key concepts and...

Public Health Ethics

Public Health Ethics
by Stephen Holland (Author)

How far should we go in protecting and promoting public health? Can we force people to give up unhealthy habits and make healthier choices? Should we stop treating smokers who refuse to give up smoking, for example, or put a tax on fatty foods and ban vending machines in schools to address the ‘obesity epidemic’? Or can we nudge people towards healthy options without compromising their freedom to choose?

Such questions are at the heart of public health ethics. In this second edition of his well respected textbook, Stephen Holland shows that to understand and debate these issues requires philosophy: moral philosophies, including utilitarianism and deontology, as well as political philosophies such as liberalism and communitarianism. And philosophy informs other aspects of...

Introduction To Public Health

Introduction To Public Health
by Mary-Jane Schneider (Author)

As public health concerns and controversies have continued to evolve, the new Third Edition of this best-selling text offers new and updated discussions of current topics, recent events, and the most up-to-date data to illustrate the key issues that affect the public’s health. Key Features: The author uses a reader-friendly, narrative style making the text engaging and accessible to a broad range of students. The text illustrates the multidisciplinary nature of public health and the complex ethical and political issues central to it. It includes discussions of epidemiological investigation, biomedical research, environmental assessment, analyses of individual and group behavior, massive data collection efforts, and policy developments. New to this Edition: New discussions about...

© 2015