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Longitudinal study of age of menarche in association with childhood concentrations of persistent organic pollutants

Age at female puberty is associated with adult morbidities, including breast cancer and diabetes. Hormonally active chemicals are suspected of altering pubertal timing. We examined whether persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are associated with age at menarche in a longitudinal study. We analyzed data for females enrolled at age 6-8 years in the Breast Cancer and Environment Research Program from California and Ohio. Participants were followed annually 2004-2013 and provided serum (mean age 7.8 years) for measurement of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), organochlorine pesticide (OCP), and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) concentrations. Age of menarche was assigned based on parental and participant reported dates and ages of menarche. Adjusted hazard ratios (aHRs) for menarchal onset were calculated with Cox proportional regression. Body mass index (BMI), potentially on the causal pathway, was added to parallel analyses. Age of menarche was later with higher summed PCB levels (median 11.9 years in quartile 1 [Q1] versus 12.7 in quartile 4 [Q4]) and OCP levels (12.1 years versus 12.4, respectively). When adjusting for all covariates except BMI, higher POP concentrations were associated with later age at menarche (Q4 versus Q1 aHRs: PBDEs 0.75 [95% CI 0.58, 0.97], PCBs 0.67 [95% CI 0.5, 0.89], and OCPs 0.66 [95% CI 0.50, 0.89]). Additional adjustment for BMI attenuated aHRs; PCB aHR approached the null. Findings revealed later onset of menarche with higher concentrations of certain POPs, possibly through an association with BMI. Altered pubertal timing may have long lasting effects on reproductive health and disease risk, so continued attention is important for understanding the biological processes affected by hormonally active chemicals.

Authors: Attfield KR; Pinney SM; Sjödin A; Voss RW; Greenspan LC; Biro FM; Hiatt RA; Kushi LH; Windham GC

Environ Res. 2019 09;176:108551. Epub 2019-06-21.

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