Understanding the Role of Persistent Organic Pollutants and Stress in the Association between Proximity to the World Trade Center Disaster and Birth Outcomes


Fetal growth is affected by exposure to both prenatal stress and environmental contaminants. The attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC) resulted in exposure to chemicals and psychological stress amongst New York City residents. We measured prenatal maternal stress and exposure to persistent organic pollutants (polybrominated diphenyl ethers, polychlorinated biphenyls, and polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs)) in 108 participants from a Columbia University WTC birth cohort. Principal component (PC) analyses were conducted to characterize the mixture of exposure to the three groups of chemicals. We evaluated the associations between geographical exposures (proximity to the WTC disaster) and both chemical exposures (PCs) and stress (demoralization). We then evaluated the effect these exposures (PCs and stress) had on previously reported associations between geographical WTC exposure and birth outcomes (birth weight and birth length) in this study population to understand their individual roles in the observed associations. Geographical exposure via proximity to the WTC was associated with the PC reflecting higher PCDD exposure (PC3) (β = 0.60, 95% CI: 0.03, 1.18 for living/working within 2 miles of the WTC; and β = 0.73, 95% CI = 0.08, 1.38 for living within 2 miles of WTC). Previously reported reductions in birth weight and length associated with WTC proximity (β = -215.2, 95% CI: -416.2, -14.3 and β = -1.47, 95% CI: -2.6, -0.34, respectively) were attenuated and no longer significant for birth weight (β = -156.4, 95% CI: -358.2, 45.4) after adjusting for PC3, suggesting that PCDDs may act as partial mediators in this previously observed association. The results of this study can help focus future research on the long-term health effects of these prenatally exposed populations.

Authors: Miranda J Spratlen, Frederica P Perera, Andreas Sjodin, Yuyan Wang, Julie B Herbstman, Leonardo Trasande
; Full Source: International journal of environmental research and public health 2022 Feb 11;19(4):2008. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19042008.