CONTEXT: Human exposure to perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) has been associated with reduced duration of breastfeeding, although not consistently so, and mechanisms by which PFAS might affect breastfeeding are unknown.

OBJECTIVE: To examine the association between early pregnancy serum-PFAS concentrations and breastfeeding termination and to elucidate the potential role of serum-prolactin concentrations in pregnancy.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Pregnant women from the Odense Child Cohort provided blood samples for analysis of 5 major PFAS (n = 1300) and prolactin concentrations (n = 924). They subsequently provided information about the duration of breastfeeding in questionnaires at 3 and 18 months postpartum, and a subgroup also provided breastfeeding information via weekly cell phone text messages. Associations between serum-PFAS concentrations and breastfeeding termination were analyzed using Cox regressions, while linear regression was used to assess associations between serum-PFAS and prolactin concentrations.

RESULTS: Increased serum concentrations of perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, perfluorooctanoic acid, perfluorononanoic acid, and ∑PFAS were associated with a 16% (95% CI: 4%-30%), 14% (95% CI: 2%-26%), 14% (95% CI: 3%-27%), and 20% (95% CI: 6%-36%), respectively, increased risk of terminating breastfeeding at any given time after childbirth. Serum-PFAS concentrations were not associated with serum-prolactin concentrations.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings are of public health importance due to the global exposures to PFAS. Because breastfeeding is crucial to promote both child health and maternal health, adverse PFAS effects on the ability to breastfeed may have long-term health consequences.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)e631–e642
Publication statusPublished - 18. Jan 2022


  • breastfeeding
  • lactation
  • perfluoroalkyl substances
  • prolactin


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