Associations of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances with maternal early second trimester sex-steroid hormones

Diana C. Pacyga, George D. Papandonatos, Libeth Rosas, Jason Whalen, Sabrina Smith, June Soo Park, Joseph C. Gardiner, Joseph M. Braun, Susan L. Schantz, Rita S. Strakovsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background/Aims: Pregnant women are exposed to persistent environmental contaminants, including per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that disrupt thyroid function. However, it is unclear if PFAS alter maternal sex-steroid hormone levels, which support pregnancy health and fetal development. Methods: In Illinois women with relatively high socioeconomic status (n = 460), we quantified perfluorononanoic (PFNA), perfluorooctane sulfonic (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic (PFOA), methyl-perfluorooctane sulfonamide acetic acid, perfluorohexanesulphonic (PFHxS), perfluorodecanoic (PFDeA), and perfluoroundecanoic (PFUdA) acid concentrations in fasting serum samples at median 17 weeks gestation, along with plasma progesterone, testosterone, and estradiol. We evaluated covariate-adjusted associations of ln-transformed hormones with each ln-transformed PFAS individually using linear regression and with the PFAS mixture using quantile-based g-computation (QGComp). Results: Interquartile range (IQR) increases in PFOS were associated with higher progesterone (%Δ 3.0; 95%CI: −0.6, 6.6) and estradiol (%Δ: 8.1; 95%CI: 2.2, 14.4) levels. Additionally, PFHxS was positively associated with testosterone (%Δ: 10.2; 95%CI: 4.0, 16.7), whereas both PFDeA and PFUdA were inversely associated with testosterone (%Δ: −5.7; 95%CI: −10.3, −0.8, and %Δ: −4.1; 95%CI: −7.6, −0.4, respectively). The IQR-standardized PFAS mixture was not associated with progesterone (%Δ: 1.6; 95%CI: −5.8, 9.2), due equal partial positive (%Δ: 9.2; driven by PFOA) and negative (%Δ: −7.4; driven by PFOS) mixture associations. Similarly, the mixture was not associated with testosterone (%Δ: 5.3; 95%CI: −9.0, 20.1), due to similar partial positive (%Δ: 23.6; driven by PFHxS) and negative (%Δ: −17.4; driven by PFDeA) mixture associations. However, we observed a slightly stronger partial positive (%Δ: 25.6; driven by PFOS and PFUdA) than negative (%Δ: −16.3; driven by PFOA) association resulting in an overall non-significant positive trend between the mixture and estradiol (%Δ: 8.5; 95%CI: −3.7, 20.9). Conclusion: PFAS mixture modeled using QGComp was not associated with maternal sex-steroid hormones due to potential opposing effects of certain PFAS. Additional prospective studies could corroborate these findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number114380
JournalInternational Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health
StatePublished - Jun 2024


  • Estradiol
  • PFAS
  • Pregnancy
  • Progesterone
  • Quantile-based g-computation
  • Testosterone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Associations of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances with maternal early second trimester sex-steroid hormones'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this