News from CREAL
Disruption of the metabolic system during critical windows of development, including the prenatal period, may predispose individuals to obesity and related diseases later in life. Certain chemicals, including some persistent organic pollutants (POPs), may mimic or block the actions of hormones involved in the development of fat tissue and energy homeostasis in animals and humans; these chemicals are known as obesogens. In a recent study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers examine the link between prenatal exposure to three kinds of POPs and cardiometabolic risk factors in young children. Manolis Kogevinas, researcher at CREAL, an ISGlobal allied center, participated in this study.
Greece has one of the highest percentages of childhood obesity in the European Union. Traditional risk factors such as genetic predisposition, food consumption, and exercise don’t fully explain the obesity epidemic, according to lead study author Marina Vafeiadi, an environmental health researcher at the University of Crete.
Studies in adults have linked exposures to certain POPs with cardiometabolic risk factors including high blood pressure and high blood lipids, but evidence in children is scarce. Vafeiadi says this study is the first to research the effects of prenatal POP exposure on cardiovascular traits in children. The study included nearly 700 mother–child pairs from the Rhea cohort in Greece. The researchers measured concentrations of dichlorodiphenyldichloroethene (DDE), hexachlorobenzene (HCB), and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in blood samples taken from the mothers around the third or fourth month of pregnancy.
Vafeiadi M. et al. Association of Prenatal Exposure to Persistent Organic Pollutants with Obesity and Cardiometabolic Traits in Early Childhood: The Rhea Mother–Child Cohort (Crete, Greece). Environ Health Perspect