Superfund Research Program
Inflammation and Metabolic Changes in Children Developmentally Exposed to PFASs
This epidemiological study takes advantage of a unique, already existing birth cohort (N = 490) in the Faroe Islands, a North Atlantic fishing community where early-life exposures to persistent environmental pollutants, such as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), have been linked to deficient vaccine responses, obesity and related metabolic conditions in previous epidemiological studies. This prospective cohort was born during an 18-month period between 2007 and 2009 and is established from consecutive singleton births during that period. Of the original cohort of 490, a total of 407 (83 percent), 8-9-year-old children, completed the clinical examination and updated the questionnaire component of the study. PFAS and other exposure assessments have now been completed, and six PFAS were detectable in all serum samples (PFHxS, PFOA, both linear and branched PFOS, PFNA, and PFDA). PFOS showed the highest concentrations, followed by PFOA and then PFNA. The researchers also completed analyses for persistent organic pollutants, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and DDE, which remain somewhat elevated but do not correlate well with the PFAS. Mercury analyses showed a small number of highly elevated exposures. By December 2019, serum biomarkers of inflammation and metabolic abnormalities have been completed for 309 of the cohort members, and concentrations of antibodies specific for tetanus and diphtheria have been completed for 300 subjects.