Persistent environmental pollutants and couple fecundity: The LIFE study

Germaine M. Buck Louis, Rajeshwari Sundaram, Enrique F. Schisterman, Anne M. Sweeney, Courtney D. Lynch, Robert E. Gore-Langton, José Maisog, Sungduk Kim, Zhen Chen, Dana B. Barr

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


Background: Evidence suggesting that persistent environmental pollutants may be reproductive toxicants underscores the need for prospective studies of couples for whom exposures are measured. Objectives: We examined the relationship between selected persistent pollutants and couple fecundity as measured by time to pregnancy. Methods: A cohort of 501 couples who discontinued contraception to become pregnant was prospectively followed for 12 months of trying to conceive or until a human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) test confirmed pregnancy. Couples completed daily journals on lifestyle and provided bio specimens for the quantification of 9 organochlorine pesticides, 1 poly brominated biphenyl, 10 polybrominated diphenyl ethers, 36 polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and 7 perfuoro chemicals (PFCs) in serum. Using Cox models for discrete time, we estimated fecundability odds ratios (FORs) and 95% CIs separately for each partner's concentrations adjusting for age, body mass index, serum cotinine, serum lipids (except for PFCs), and study site (Michigan or Texas); sensitivity models were further adjusted for left truncation or time of of contraception (≤ 2 months) before enrollment. results: Te adjusted reduction in fecundability associated with standard deviation increases in log-transformed serum concentrations ranged between 18% and 21% for PCB congeners 118, 167, 209, and perfuorooctane sulfonamide in females; and between 17% and 29% for p,p ́&2011;DDE and PCB congeners 138, 156, 157, 167, 170, 172, and 209 in males. Te strongest associations were observed for PCB 167 (FOR 0.79; 95% CI: 0.64, 0.97) in females and PCB 138 (FOR = 0.71; 95% CI: 0.52, 0.98) in males. Conclusions: In this couple-based prospective cohort study with preconception enrollment and quantification of exposures in both female and male partners, we observed that a subset of persistent environmental chemicals were associated with reduced fecundity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-236
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental health perspectives
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Conception
  • Cotinine
  • Fecundity
  • Organochlorine pesticides
  • Perfuorochemicals
  • Polybrominated diphenyl ethers
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls
  • Time to pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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