Press Release

PFC Exposure May Spark Metabolic Changes in Overweight Children

February 25, 2014

Endocrine-disrupting chemical could raise risk of heart disease, diabetes

Washington, DC—Overweight children who were exposed to higher levels of perfluorinated chemicals tended to show early signs of developing the metabolic syndrome, according to a new study published in The Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

The term metabolic syndrome describes a cluster of risk factors that increase the chances of developing heart disease, stroke and diabetes. The study is the first to find changing metabolic markers in children were associated with exposure to perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), common industrial chemicals used as stain and water repellants in carpets, furniture and textiles.

“Our results suggest that these chemicals, which linger in the environment for years, could represent an important public health hazard that merits further study,” said one of the study’s authors, Clara Amalie Gade Timmermann, MSC, of the University of Southern Denmark. “Overweight children who were exposed to higher levels of PFCs tended to have higher concentrations of insulin and triglycerides in their blood, and these metabolic changes could signal the beginnings of the metabolic syndrome.”

The cross-sectional study examined PFC exposure and metabolic changes in 499 third-graders. Researchers measured the participants’ body mass index and waist circumference and analyzed blood samples for PFC, insulin, triglyceride and glucose levels. The samples were taken in 1997 as part of the European Youth Heart Study.

The analysis found that overweight children who had higher levels of certain PFCs in their blood were more likely to have higher levels of insulin and triglycerides as well. There was no relationship between PFC exposure and metabolic markers in normal-weight children.

“Although the two types of PFCs we investigated are being phased out due to health concerns, the use of other types of PFCs is on the rise,” Timmermann said. “There is an ongoing need to determine how the entire class of chemicals is affecting children’s health.”

Other authors of the study include: L.I. Rossing, A. Grøntved, M. Ried-Larsen, C. Dalgård, L.B. Andersen, P. Grandjean, F. Nielsen and T.K. Jensen of the University of Southern Denmark; and K.D. Svendsen and T. Scheike of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

The study, “Adiposity and Glycemic Control in Children Exposed to Perfluorinated Compounds,” was published online, ahead of print.

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Endocrinologists are at the core of solving the most pressing health problems of our time, from diabetes and obesity to infertility, bone health, and hormone-related cancers. The Endocrine Society is the world’s oldest and largest organization of scientists devoted to hormone research and physicians who care for people with hormone-related conditions.

The Society has more than 18,000 members, including scientists, physicians, educators, nurses and students in 122 countries. To learn more about the Society and the field of endocrinology, visit our site at www.endocrine.org. Follow us on Twitter at @TheEndoSociety and @EndoMedia.


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Media Contacts

Colleen Williams Manager, Public Relations Phone: (202)-971-3611 cwilliams@endocrine.org

Jenni Glenn Gingery Associate Director, Communications and Media Relations Phone: (202)-971-3655 jgingery@endocrine.org

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