In a nutshell
This study looked at the effects of the industrial chemicals PCBs and PBBs on female fertility. This study found that these chemicals did not affect reproductive diseases, but women with higher levels had fewer pregnancies.
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) were formerly used as coolants and flame retardants. They were banned in the 1970s due to concern over health effects. However, PBBs and PCBs take a long time to break down. This means that they can still be found in the environment, food, and people’s bodies.
Women exposed to PCBs and PBBs have shorter menstrual cycles with longer periods. These chemicals may be linked to miscarriage, endometriosis, or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). It is not clear how these chemicals affect fertility and reproductive health in women who are exposed.
Methods & findings
In 1973, PBBs were accidentally added to animal feed in Michigan, USA. This study included 262 women from the affected area. Participants completed a questionnaire about their reproductive health and had blood tests.
The survey asked about the symptoms of different reproductive disorders. These included pelvic inflammatory disease (infection of a woman's reproductive organs) and endometriosis. PCOS and uterine fibroids (noncancerous tumors in the womb) were also surveyed. There was no connection between blood levels of PCBs or PBBs and these reproductive disorders.
More women with exposure to PCBs did not become pregnant after six months of unprotected sex. Women with exposure to PCBs also became pregnant significantly fewer times over their lives (0.11 fewer) compared to non-exposed women. Overall,192 women reported pregnancy.
However, women with exposure to PCBs did not have a higher risk of complications during pregnancy. These complications included miscarriage, gestational diabetes, and high blood pressure during pregnancy.
The bottom line
This study found that women with higher levels of PCBs had fewer pregnancies and were less likely to become pregnant within six months. However, these women did not have a higher risk of reproductive disorders or pregnancy complications.
The fine print
This study did not measure blood levels of PBBs and PCBs while the women were pregnant. Also, the study did not adjust for the use of birth control. More studies are needed to confirm these results.
Discuss your exposure to industrial chemicals with your doctor.
Published By :
Feb 24, 2020