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      Flame Retardants in Placenta and Breast Milk and Cryptorchidism in Newborn Boys


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          Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are widely used in Western countries.


          Because the prevalence of cryptorchidism appears to be increasing, we investigated whether exposure to PBDEs was associated with testicular maldescent.


          In a prospective Danish–Finnish study, 1997–2001, all boys were examined for cryptorchidism. We analyzed whole placentas (for 95 cryptorchid/185 healthy boys) and individual breast milk samples (62/68) for 14 PBDEs and infant serum samples for gonadotropins, sex-hormone binding globulin, testosterone, and inhibin B.


          In 86 placenta–milk pairs, placenta PBDE concentrations in fat were lower than in breast milk, and a larger number of congeners were nondetectable. There was no significant difference between boys with and without cryptorchidism for individual congeners, the sum of 5 most prevalent, or all 14 congeners. The concentration of PBDEs in breast milk was significantly higher in boys with cryptorchidism than in controls (sum of BDEs 47, 153, 99, 100, 28, 66, and 154: median, 4.16 vs. 3.16 ng/g fat; p < 0.007). There was a positive correlation between the sum of PBDEs and serum luteinizing hormone ( p < 0.033). The sum of PBDEs in breast milk did not differ between Denmark and Finland (median, 3.52 vs. 3.44 ng/g fat), but significant differences in some individual congeners were found.


          Two different proxies were used for prenatal PBDE exposure, and levels in breast milk, but not in placenta, showed an association with congenital cryptorchidism. Other environmental factors may contribute to cryptorchidism. Our observations are of concern because human exposure to PBDEs is high in some geographic areas.

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          Most cited references62

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          Declaration of Helsinki. Ethical principles for medical research involving human subjects.

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            Intrauterine growth curves based on ultrasonically estimated foetal weights.

            Available standard intrauterine growth curves based on birthweights underestimate foetal growth in preterm period. New growth curves are presented based on data from four Scandinavian centres for 759 ultrasonically estimated foetal weights in 86 uncomplicated pregnancies. Mean weight of boys exceeded that of girls by 2-3%. A uniform SD value of 12% of the mean weight was adopted for the standard curves as the true SD varied non-systematically between 9.1 and 12.4%. Applied to an unselected population of 8663 singleton births, before 210 days of gestation, 32% of birthweights were classified as small-for-gestational age (SGA; i.e. below mean - 2 SD); the corresponding figures were 11.1% for gestational ages between 210 and 258 days, and 2.6% for ages of 259 days or longer. The new growth curves reveal better the true distribution of SGA foetuses and neonates, and are suggested for use in perinatological practice.
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              An overview of commercially used brominated flame retardants, their applications, their use patterns in different countries/regions and possible modes of release.

              Brominated flame retardants (BFRs) are used in a variety of consumer products and several of those are produced in large quantities. These compounds have been detected in environmental samples, which can be attributed to the anthropogenic uses of these compounds. Brominated flame retardants are produced via direct bromination of organic molecules or via addition of bromine to alkenes; hence, an overview of the production and usage of bromine over the past three decades is covered. Production, application, and environmental occurrence of high production brominated flame retardants including Tetrabromobisphenol A, polybrominated biphenyls, Penta-, Octa-, Deca-brominated diphenyl ether (oxide) formulation and hexabromocyclododecane are discussed.

                Author and article information

                Environ Health Perspect
                Environmental Health Perspectives
                National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
                October 2007
                31 May 2007
                : 115
                : 10
                : 1519-1526
                [1 ] University Department of Growth and Reproduction, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark
                [2 ] National Public Health Institute, Department of Environmental Health, Kuopio, Finland
                [3 ] Departments of Physiology and Paediatrics, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
                [4 ] University of Kuopio, Department of Environmental Sciences, Kuopio, Finland
                Author notes
                Address correspondence to K.M. Main, University Department of Growth and Reproduction, Section 5064, Rigshospitalet, Blegdamsvej 9, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark. Telephone: (+45) 3545-5085. Fax: (+45) 3545-6054. E-mail: katharina.main@ 123456rh.regionh.dk

                The authors declare they have no competing financial interests.

                This is an Open Access article: verbatim copying and redistribution of this article are permitted in all media for any purpose, provided this notice is preserved along with the article's original DOI.
                Children's Health

                Public health
                cryptorchidism,exposure,polybrominated diphenyl ethers,human,infant,breast milk
                Public health
                cryptorchidism, exposure, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, human, infant, breast milk


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