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Perinatal Studies

Neurodevelopmental Effects of Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs)

Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) are widespread man-made persistent organic pollutants with endocrine disruptive and neurotoxic activities observed in animals. Almost all pregnant women and children in Denmark and the US were found to be involuntarily and nearly ubiquitously exposed to these synthetic compounds, but human studies that evaluate neurodevelopmental effects of PFCs are sparse. We will use data from the Danish National Birth Cohort (DNBC) to study the impact of prenatal exposure to PFCs on a broad range of critical neurodevelopmental endpoints spanning from ages 5 to 16. Our study findings will advance scientific insights into the biologic mechanisms of developmental brain disorders and may influence regulation of these chemical contaminants globally.

Principal Investigator:

Paternal and Maternal Perfluoroalkyl Substance Exposure and Offspring Health

Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made persistent chemicals, which have been widely applied in commercial products since the 1950s. Commonly applied PFAS are extremely persistent and exposure to humans is ubiquitous. An increasing number of population-based studies have indicated maternal and fetal exposure to PFAS was associated with impaired fetal growth.

One area of PFAS research that has been largely overlooked is the possible adverse effect of paternal exposure to PFAS on offspring development. To address the knowledge gap, a multidisciplinary team of investigators participating in this novel study will determine the impact of paternal and maternal PFAS exposure on fetal growth and neurodevelopmental outcomes in parent-child pairs enrolled in the INUENDO birth cohort. The INUENDO study is a multi-country longitudinal cohort study of parents from Greenland, Kharkiv (Ukraine), and Warsaw (Poland). Participants were enrolled in INUENDO between 2002 and 2004. The offspring were followed up to 9 years of age using standardized data collection procedures across study sites, and a panel of environmental contaminants, including six types of common PFAS, have been measured in both maternal and paternal serum samples collected during pregnancy. Measures of paternal seminal quality and sperm morphology are also available for the father-child pairs.

Our specific aims are to determine the extent to which paternal and maternal PFAS exposures are individually and/or jointly associated with (1) fetal growth and birth outcomes, and (2) child behavioral and motor functions at ages 5 to 9 years. We will also study whether paternal semen quality mediates or modifies the possible paternal PFAS effects on child health outcomes. This project will provide critical data to evaluate a broader range of offspring health associated with environmental exposures in both parents, and the utilization of complex genetic/epigenetic and metabolomics approaches to understand exposure-disease mechanisms.

Principal Investigator:
  • Zeyan Liew, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Health Sciences; email:

The Effect of Phenol Exposure

The effect of phenol exposure on reproductive function and the urinary metabolome

Phenols are endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in many everyday items, ranging from personal care products to food packaging materials. This study investigates whether exposure to common levels of phenols impacts reproductive function and fertility among women and the mechanisms behind possible associations. Results from this study could be used to help guide future public health recommendations about safe exposure levels, and how best to minimize exposures.

Contact PI/Graduate Student (PhD Candidate):

Primary Sponsor: