BACKGROUND: Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is associated with increased availability of glucose and macronutrients in fetal circulation and macrosomia. Therefore, the role of GDM in the association between metabolism-disrupting chemicals and birth size deserves attention.
OBJECTIVE: We examined whether GDM may mediate or modify the associations between maternal environmental pollutant exposures and offspring birth size measures.
METHODS: We analyzed 604 Faroese pregnant women and their offsprings born in 1997-2000. Maternal pregnancy serum concentrations of organochlorine compounds (OCs: polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congeners and dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE)), and five perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), and hair and cord blood mercury concentrations were measured. We used regression (single-pollutants) and structural equation models (SEMs) (multiple-pollutant analyses using latent constructs of OCs, PFASs and mercury) to estimate the associations with GDM and birth size measures, accounting for mediation and/or effect modification by GDM.
RESULTS: Serum-DDE and hair-mercury concentrations were associated with GDM (adjusted OR per concentration doubling: 1.29; 95% CI: 0.94, 1.77 for DDE, and 0.79; 95% CI: 0.62, 0.99 for mercury), but in multiple pollutant-adjusted SEMs only a positive association between OC exposure and GDM remained significant (change in GDM odds per OC doubling: 0.45; 95% CI: 0.05, 0.86). PCB and overall OC exposure were positively associated with head circumference (SEM; mean change per OC doubling: 0.13cm; 95% CI, 0.01. 0.25). Overall PFAS exposure was inversely associated with birth weight (SEM; mean change per PFAS doubling: -169g; 95% CI: -359, 21), and for many single-PFASs we found a pattern of inverse associations with birth weight and head circumference in boys, and positive or null associations in girls. None of the environmental pollutants was associated with offspring length. GDM neither modified nor mediated the associations with birth size measures.
CONCLUSIONS: We found associations with GDM and offspring birth size to be specific to the environmental pollutant or pollutant group. Associations with birth size measures appear to be independent of GDM occurrence.