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Keywords:

  • Breastfeeding;
  • Diet;
  • Fish intake;
  • Perfluorinated compounds;
  • PFAA

Scope

In this study, food is suggested as a major source of human exposure to perfluorinated alkyl acids (PFAA). We investigated relations between serum levels of PFAA in adults and diet/lifestyle factors nationwide in Sweden.

Methods and results

In 2010–2011, adults (18–80 years, N = 270) recorded their diet for 4 days and answered a food frequency questionnaire. PFAA were measured in blood serum as well as v-3 fatty acids in plasma phospholipids as a biomarker for fish consumption. Higher levels of PFAA were associated with male sex, increased age, and higher education. Women reporting full breastfeeding for ≥12 months had 32–44% lower levels of perfluorooctane sulfonate, perfluorooctanoic acid, and perfluorohexane sulfonate than women who never nursed their infants full-time. Serum perfluorooctane sulfonate, perfluorononanoic acid, perfluorodecanoic acid, and perfluoroundecanoic acid were positively related to n-3 fatty acids in plasma (partial r = 0.19–0.34, p ≤ 0.05).

Conclusion

The relatively strong correlations between biomarkers of fish consumption and certain PFAA suggest that PFAA exposure should be taken into account in health risk and benefit assessment of fish consumption. Breastfeeding appears to be a major source of elimination of certain PFAA among women, and consequently PFAA exposure of nursed infants could be significant.