(HealthDay News) — Children whose mothers were exposed to relatively high levels of perfluorooctanoic (PFOA) during pregnancy have more rapid accumulation of body fat, according to findings published in Obesity.

For the study, Joseph Braun, PhD, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and colleagues included information on 204 Cincinnati mothers and their children. The researchers measured children’s heights, weights, and the amount of fat tissue they had.

The children born to the two-thirds of mothers with the highest exposure to PFOA during pregnancy had up to 2.4 lb more body fat at age 8 years than those born to the one-third of mothers with the least exposure to the chemical.

Although the study found an association between prenatal exposure to PFOA and child’s later weight, the study was not designed to prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

Still, the findings are “significant enough to warrant additional investigation to see if the trends continue as these children get older, and to see if other markers of either fetal growth or rapid early infancy growth are associated with these exposures,” Braun said in a Brown University news release.

Two authors disclosed serving as expert witnesses and consultants in legal cases regarding lead poisoning.


  1. Braun J, Chen A, Romano ME, et al. Prenatal perfluoroalkyl substance exposure and child adiposity at 8 years of age: The HOME study. Obesity. 2015;doi:10.1002/oby.21258.