Prenatal exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances and pregnancy outcome in Austria

Andreas-Marius Kaiser, Martin Forsthuber, Raimund Widhalm, Sebastian Granitzer, Stefan Weiss, Harald Zeisler, Philipp Foessleitner, Hans Salzer, Bettina Grasl-Kraupp, Hanns Moshammer, Christina Hartmann, Maria Uhl, Claudia Gundacker

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

1 Citation (Scopus)


Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a large group of persistent industrial chemicals that can harm reproductive health. PFAS levels were analysed to determine the current sources of exposure and possible associations between prenatal PFAS exposure and adverse pregnancy outcome. Samples from 136 mother-newborn pairs recruited between 2017 and 2019 were analysed for the presence of 31 target PFAS in maternal serum, umbilical cord serum, and placental tissue by high-performance liquid chromatography coupled to a tandem mass spectrometer. Questionnaires and medical records were used to survey sources of exposure and pregnancy outcome, including small for gestational age (SGA), fetal growth restriction (FGR), preeclampsia (PE), preterm birth, large for gestational age (LGA) and gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). Data were analysed for individual PFAS and sum4PFAS (sum of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS), and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) serum levels) in logistic regression analyses and categorical regression analyses. Compared to data from a previous Viennese study in 2010–12, sum4PFAS levels were generally lower. Sum4PFAS serum levels of three women (2.2%) exceeded 6.9 µg/L, a level that corresponds to the recently established tolerable weekly intake (TWI) of EFSA for nursing mothers aged 35 years; in the 2010/2012 study it was 13.6%. The large contribution of unidentified extractable organofluorine (EOF) fractions to total PFAS exposure is a concern. Study site, mean maternal corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH), use of facial lotion, and owning upholstered furniture were significantly influencing maternal exposure. While no effect of sum4PFAS on pregnancy outcome could be detected, we found highest placental PFDA levels in SGA births. PFHxS levels in umbilical cord and placenta were highest in preterm births. Further studies are needed to elucidate the relationship of prenatal PFAS exposure and pregnancy outcome, in particular to confirm whether and how placental PFDA levels may contribute to an increased risk for SGA.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115006
Pages (from-to)115006
JournalEcotoxicology and Environmental Safety
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jul 2023


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