Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have become the focus of recent scientific studies due to their ubiquity in consumer products and potential impact on the endocrine system. These synthetic chemicals, known for their water- and grease-resistant properties, are used pervasively throughout industry but are also found in everyday household products, clothes, furniture, food packaging, and cookware. They have been identified as endocrine disruptors, and can affect many biological processes in humans. Because of the strong chemical bonds, PFAS are highly resistant to degradation and can accumulate in the environment and living organisms. This accumulation may disrupt normal hormone functioning by binding to receptors or affecting hormone production. Research suggests these disruptions can impact the synthesis and function of hormones, raising concerns about potential long-term health implications, especially for vulnerable populations like pregnant women and developing babies.

Studies indicate a correlation between PFAS exposure and disruptions in hormone regulation, potentially contributing to adverse perinatal health outcomes such as low birth weight, preeclampsia or gestational diabetes. The complex relationship between PFAS and hormones is still not fully understood, however, this connection highlights the need for more research to understand exactly how PFAS may be disrupting natural biological processes that take place during pregnancy. Better understanding of how chemicals effect our bodies can help come up with ways to reduce the potential health risks of both mothers and babies.

As researchers continue to address significant gaps in our understanding of the mechanisms and long-term effects of PFAS exposure, the ongoing BiSC project plays a crucial role. Thanks to the participation of individuals in this cohort study, researchers can delve into the potential effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals. The valuable data collected in BiSC as part of the ATHLETE Project, allows for a comprehensive study of how chemical exposures may impact mothers and babies during pregnancy. This participation not only aids in the regulation of these substances, but also helps inform the public about consumer products and contributes to the protection of vulnerable populations.


This post has been written by Bethany Knox, predoctoral fellow at the BiSC Project.