Exposure to hexachlorobenzene during pregnancy increases the risk of overweight in children aged 6 years


Nuria Ribas-Fito, Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology, Institut Municipal Investigació Mèdica (IMIM), C. Doctor Aiguader 88, 08003 Barcelona, Spain. Tel: +34 93 316 04 00 | Fax: +34 93 316 06 35 | Email: nribas@imim.es


Aim: To determine whether prenatal exposure to hexachlorobenzene (HCB) has potential adverse effects on child's weight and body mass index (BMI) in a general population with no local pollution sources.

Methods: Starting from mid 1997, all mothers presenting for antenatal exposure in Menorca were recruited. Subsequently, 482 children were enrolled. HCB was measured in cord blood. Weight and height were measured at birth and at age 6.5 years.

Results: Children with HCB levels higher than 1.03 ng/mL in cord blood were 1.14 kg (0.38) heavier and had a higher BMI (β= 0.80 (0.34)) than children with HCB levels lower than 0.46 ng/mL. No statistically significant associations were found in height. Children in the higher exposure group of HCB had an increased risk of 2.5 and 3.0 of being overweight and obese. Children from normalweight mothers also presented an increased risk of having higher BMI with increasing concentrations of HCB in cord serum.

Conclusion: Prenatal exposure to HCB is associated with an increase in BMI and weight at age 6.5 years. Further studies with larger samples and longer follow-up are needed to confirm these results.