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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Parental occupational exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals and male genital malformations: A study in the Danish National Birth Cohort study

  • Author(s): Morales-Suárez-Varela, María M
  • Toft, Gunnar V
  • Jensen, Morten S
  • Ramlau-Hansen, Cecilia
  • Kaerlev, Linda
  • Thulstrup, Ane-Marie
  • Llopis-González, Agustín
  • Olsen, Jørn
  • Bonde, Jens P
  • et al.

Abstract Background Sex hormones closely regulate development of the male genital organs during fetal life. The hypothesis that xenobiotics may disrupt endogenous hormonal signalling has received considerable scientific attention, but human evidence is scarce. Objectives We analyse occurrence of hypospadias and cryptorchidism according to maternal and paternal occupational exposure to possible endocrine disrupting chemicals. Methods We conducted a follow-up study of 45,341 male singleton deliveries in the Danish National Birth Cohort during 1997-2009. Information on work during pregnancy was obtained by telephone interviews around gestational week 16. Parents' job titles were classified according to DISCO-88. A job exposure matrix for endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) was implemented to assess occupational exposures. The Medical Birth and National Hospital Register provided data on congenital anomalies diagnosed at birth or during follow-up, which ended in 2009. Crude and adjusted hazard ratios (HR) were obtained from Cox regression models. Results Among all pregnancies, 6.3% were classified as possibly or probably exposed to EDCs. The most prevalent occupations conferring possible exposure were cleaners, laboratory technicians, hairdressers and agricultural workers (58% of all potentially exposed). The final cumulative incidence of cryptorchidism in boys was 2.2% (1002 cases), and of hypospadias 0.6% (262 cases). The occurrence of hypospadias increased when mothers were probably [HRa = 1.8 (95% CI 1.0-2.6)] or possibly exposed to one or more EDCs [HRa = 2.6 (95% CI 1.8-3.4). Possible paternal exposure to heavy metals increased the risk of hypospadias [HRa 2.2 (95% CI: 1.0-3.4)] and cryptorchidism [HRa 1.9 (95% CI: 1.1-2.7)]. None of the exposure groups reached statistical significance. Conclusion The study provides some but limited evidence that occupational exposure to possible endocrine disrupting chemicals during pregnancy increases the risk of hypospadias.

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