Secondary sex ratio in relation to exposures to polychlorinated biphenyls, dichlorodiphenyl dichloroethylene and methylmercury

Clara Amalie Gade Timmermann, Anna L Choi, Maria Skaalum Petersen, Flemming Nielsen, Esben Budtz-Jørgensen, Pál Weihe, Philippe Grandjean

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This study was undertaken to assess the potential impact of maternal exposures to polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), dichlorodiphenyl dichloroethylene (DDE) and methylmercury on the secondary sex ratios (the ratio of male to female live births) over a span of 23 years. The study includes prospective data from three Faroese birth cohorts, with a total of 2,152 healthy mother-child dyads recruited between 1986 and 2009. The Faroe Islands is a subarctic fishing community, where pilot whale meat and blubber are part of the traditional marine diet. Exposures were measured in maternal hair, serum or umbilical cord blood. Confounder adjusted logistic regression models were used to assess the associations between maternal exposures and the secondary sex ratio. A doubling in ΣPCB, p,p'-DDE and mercury concentrations were associated with increased odds by 8% (95% CI = 0-16%), 7% (95% CI = 0-14%) and 9% (95% CI = 2-17%), respectively, of giving birth to a boy. In conclusion, maternal exposure to ΣPCB, DDE and methylmercury was associated with a slightly increased secondary sex ratio. The impact of paternal exposures could not be taken into account and deserves attention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1406234
JournalInternational Journal of Circumpolar Health
Issue number1
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2017



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