Main content area

Heterogeneity in childhood body mass trajectories in relation to prenatal phthalate exposure

Heggeseth, Brianna C., Holland, Nina, Eskenazi, Brenda, Kogut, Katherine, Harley, Kim G.
Environmental research 2019 v.175 pp. 22-33
body mass index, childhood, children, cohort studies, environmental exposure, girls, health effects assessments, longitudinal studies, metabolites, models, mothers, obesity, personal care products, phthalates, plastics, principal component analysis, puberty
Phthalates, compounds commonly used in plastics and personal care products, have been associated with childhood obesity in cross-sectional and some longitudinal studies. Using advanced statistical methods, we characterized the heterogeneity in body mass development patterns over childhood (ages 2–14 years) and explored associations with maternal prenatal urinary concentrations of phthalates among 335 children in the Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas (CHAMACOS) cohort study. Height and weight were measured every one to two years in this cohort, which had a high prevalence of obesity and overweight. Building upon a previous analysis that showed a positive association between prenatal phthalate exposure and body mass index (BMI) in CHAMACOS children, we used three advanced statistical methods: generalized additive models, growth mixture models, and functional principal component analysis with tree-based methods to identify patterns of childhood BMI development and allow for non-linear relationships with the environmental exposures. Our results highlight the heterogeneity in childhood BMI development patterns and suggest a sex-specific non-linear association between prenatal monoethyl phthalate urinary concentrations and BMI level in children, confirmed across a variety of statistical methods. There is also evidence to suggest positive associations between DEHP metabolites and BMI stabilization during puberty for girls.