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  • Author: Niels E Skakkebæk x
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Anna-Maria Andersson, Hanne Frederiksen, Kenneth M Grigor, Jorma Toppari and Niels E Skakkebæk

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Hanne Frederiksen, Tina Kold Jensen, Niels Jørgensen, Henriette Boye Kyhl, Steffen Husby, Niels E Skakkebæk, Katharina M Main, Anders Juul and Anna-Maria Andersson

Several non-persistent industrial chemicals have shown endocrine disrupting effects in animal studies and are suspected to be involved in human reproductive disorders. Among the non-persistent chemicals that have been discussed intensively during the past years are phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA), triclosan (TCS), and parabens because of their anti-androgenic and/or estrogenic effects. Phthalates are plasticizers used in numerous industrial products. Bisphenol A is the main component of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Parabens and TCS are antimicrobial preservatives and other phenols such as benzophenone-3 (BP-3) act as a UV-screener, while chlorophenols and phenyl phenols are used as pesticides and fungicides in agriculture. In spite of the widespread use of industrial chemicals, knowledge of exposure sources and human biomonitoring studies among different segments of the population is very limited. In Denmark, we have no survey programs for non-persistent environmental chemicals, unlike some countries such as the USA (NHANES) and Germany (GerES). However, we have analyzed the excretion of seven parabens, nine phenols, and the metabolites of eight different phthalates in urine samples collected over the past 6 years from four Danish cohorts. Here, we present biomonitoring data on more than 3600 Danish children, adolescents, young men, and pregnant women from the general population. Our study shows that nearly all Danes were exposed to the six most common phthalates, to BPA, TCS, and BP-3, and to at least two of the parabens. The exposure to other non-persistent chemicals was also widespread. Our data indicate decreasing excretion of two common phthalates (di-n-butyl phthalate and di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate) over time.

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Roger Hart, Dorota A Doherty, Hanne Frederiksen, Jeffrey A Keelan, Martha Hickey, Deborah Sloboda, Craig E Pennell, John P Newnham, Niels E Skakkebaek and Katharina M Main

We hypothesised that antenatal exposure to ubiquitous phthalates may lead to an earlier menarche and a lower prevalence of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and polycystic ovarian morphology (PCO) in adolescence. The Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study recruited 3000 women at 18 weeks of gestation in 1989–1991, 1377 had antenatal serum stored without thawing at −80 °C. An unselected subset was evaluated in the early follicular phase for PCO and PCOS by ultrasound and serum evaluation in adolescence. Serum was analysed for anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH), inhibin B, sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), testosterone, androstenedione and DHEAS. Four hundred microlitres of the frozen maternal serum underwent isotope-diluted liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry, with preceding enzymatic deconjugation followed by solid-phase extraction to determine phthalate exposure. Two hundred and forty four girls attended assessment and most common phthalate metabolites were detectable in the majority of the 123 samples available. Several phthalates were negatively associated with maternal SHBG, and associations with maternal androgens were less consistent. The sum of the metabolites of di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate was associated with a non-significant tendency towards an earlier age at menarche (P=0.069). Uterine volume was positively associated with mono-(carboxy-iso-octyl) phthalate (P=0.018). Exposure to monoethyl phthalate (MEP) and the sum of all phthalate metabolites (Σall phth.m) were protective against PCOS in adolescence (P=0.001 and P=0.005 respectively). There were negative associations of MEP with PCO (P=0.022) and of MEP with serum AMH (P=0.031). Consequently, our data suggest that antenatal exposure to environmental phthalates may be associated with oestrogenic and/or anti-androgenic reproductive effects in adolescent girls.

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Christine Wohlfahrt-Veje, Karine Audouze, Søren Brunak, Jean Philippe Antignac, Bruno le Bizec, Anders Juul, Niels E Skakkebæk and Katharina Maria Main

Experimental studies have shown that dioxin-like chemicals may interfere with aspects of the endocrine system including growth. However, human background population studies are, however, scarce. We aimed to investigate whether early exposure of healthy infants to dioxin-like chemicals was associated with changes in early childhood growth and serum IGF1. In 418 maternal breast milk samples of Danish children (born 1997–2001) from a longitudinal cohort, we measured polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins, polychlorinated dibenzofurans, and polychlorinated biphenyls (pg or ng/g lipid) and calculated total toxic equivalent (total TEQ). SDS and SDS changes over time (ΔSDS) were calculated for height, weight, BMI, and skinfold fat percentage at 0, 3, 18, and 36 months of age. Serum IGF1 was measured at 3 months. We adjusted for confounders using multivariate regression analysis. Estimates (in parentheses) correspond to a fivefold increase in total TEQ. TEQ levels in breast milk increased significantly with maternal age and fish consumption and decreased with maternal birth year, parity, and smoking. Total TEQ was associated with lower fat percentage (−0.45 s.d., CI: −0.89; −0.04), non-significantly with lower weight and length at 0 months, accelerated early height growth (increased ΔSDS) (ΔSDS 0–18 months: +0.77 s.d., CI: 0.34; 1.19) and early weight increase (ΔSDS 0–18: +0.52 s.d., CI: 0.03; 1.00), and increased IGF1 serum levels at 3 months (+13.9 ng/ml, CI: 2.3; 25.5). Environmental exposure to dioxin-like chemicals was associated with being skinny at birth and with higher infant levels of circulating IGF1 as well as accelerated early childhood growth (rapid catch-up growth).

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Dorte Vesterholm Jensen, Jeppe Christensen, Helena E Virtanen, Niels E Skakkebæk, Katharina M Main, Jorma Toppari, Christine W Veje, Anna-Maria Andersson, Flemming Nielsen, Philippe Grandjean and Tina Kold Jensen

Geographical differences in the occurrence of diseases in male reproductive organs, including malformation in reproductive tract, between Denmark and Finland have been reported. The reason for these differences is unknown, but differences in exposure to chemicals with endocrine-disrupting abilities have been suggested. Among these chemicals are perfluoro-alkylated substances (PFASs), a group of water- and grease-repellent chemicals used in outdoor clothes, cookware, food packaging, and textiles. In this study, we, therefore, investigated differences in PFAS exposure levels between Denmark and Finland and the association between cord blood PFAS levels and congenital cryptorchidism. Boys from a joint ongoing prospective birth cohort study were included. We analyzed PFAS levels in cord blood serum samples collected from 29 Danish boys with congenital cryptorchidism, 30 healthy Danish matched controls recruited from 1997 to 2001, 30 Finnish cases, and 78 Finnish healthy matched controls recruited from 1997 to 1999. Additionally, 48 Finnish cases recruited from 2000 to 2002 were included. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) were detected in all the 215 Danish and Finnish cord blood samples with significantly higher levels being observed in the Danish samples (medians: PFOA, 2.6 ng/ml and PFOS, 9.1 ng/ml) than in the Finnish samples (medians: PFOA, 2.1 ng/ml and PFOS, 5.2 ng/ml). We found no associations between cord blood PFOA and PFOS levels and congenital cryptorchidism after adjustment for confounders. Our data indicate that women in Denmark and Finland are generally exposed to PFOA and PFOS but there are differences in exposure levels between countries. We found no statistically significant association between cord blood PFOA and PFOS levels and congenital cryptorchidism; however, our study was small and larger studies are warranted.