Environ Res 2019 01 14;168:389-396. Epub 2018 Oct 14.
Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, United States; Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, United States. Electronic address:
Background: A number of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC) have been associated with gestational diabetes (GDM) risk factors. However, no human study has investigated the association between pregnancy exposure to parabens, a class of EDCs, and pregnancy glucose levels, a risk factor for GDM. Furthermore, little is known about this association in subfertile women-a group at high risk of GDM.
Methods: A total of 241 women from the Environment and Reproductive Health Study had data available on 1st and/or 2nd trimester urinary methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben concentrations, and blood glucose levels after the glucose loading test (GLT), a non-fasting 50 g glucose loading test taken at late 2nd trimester. Trimester-specific associations between specific gravity adjusted methylparaben, butylparaben, and propylparaben with adjusted mean of pregnancy glucose levels were evaluated in linear regression models, using quartiles of each paraben's distribution, and as a paraben mixture, using mutual adjustment and Bayesian kernel machine regression (BKMR), a recently proposed method for investigating chemical mixtures that flexibly models the joint effect of chemicals.
Results: Investigating parabens one at the time did not provide any significant results. When investigating parabens as a chemical mixture with both multiple regression and BKMR, we observed positive associations of butylparaben (e.g comparing the 4th and 1st quartiles) with glucose levels, for both the 1st trimester (adjusted difference=12.5 mg/dL; 95% CI: 0.9, 24.2) and 2nd trimester (adjusted difference=11.2 mg/dL; 95% CI: 0.2, 22.3), and a negative association between 1st trimester propylparaben and glucose (adjusted difference=-22.3 mg/dL; 95% CI: -43.2, -1.4).
Conclusions: We found 1st trimester butylparaben and propylparaben urinary concentrations to be associated with glucose levels in a pregnancy cohort of women at high risk of GDM, even after adjusting for potential confounders. Because exposure to parabens is widespread, these findings may suggest further investigating the effects of this chemical class on pregnancy health.