Prenatal exposure to perfluoroalkyl substances is associated with lower hand, foot and mouth disease viruses antibody response in infancy: Findings from the Guangzhou Birth Cohort Study

Xiao Wen Zeng, Michael S. Bloom, Shyamali C. Dharmage, Caroline J. Lodge, Da Chen, Shanshan Li, Yuming Guo, Marjut Roponen, Pasi Jalava, Maija Riitta Hirvonen, Huimin Ma, Yuan Tao Hao, Wen Chen, Mo Yang, Chu Chu, Qing Qing Li, Li Wen Hu, Kang Kang Liu, Bo Yi Yang, Shan LiuChuanxi Fu, Guang Hui Dong

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29 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are synthetic chemicals widely used in industry and for commercial products. Their immunomodulatory effects are a growing health concern in children. Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) is a common childhood viral infection, and increased incidence of which has parallel the rise in PFAS exposure in the Asia-Pacific region. Objective: We conducted the first study to assess whether prenatal exposure to PFAS was associated with a reduction in HFMD virus antibodies in infants. Methods: We enrolled 201 mother-infant pairs from the Guangzhou Birth Cohort Study from July to October 2013. High performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry was employed to determine concentrations of specific PFAS isomers in cord blood. Neutralizing antibodies titers were measured against two HFMD viruses, enterovirus 71 (EV71) and coxsackievirus A 16 (CA16), in cord blood serum and blood serum at three months of age. Results: Higher umbilical cord blood PFAS concentrations were associated with lower EV71 and CA16 antibody concentrations. A doubling in the composite sum of cord blood PFASs in three month old infants was associated with significant increase in the risk of HFMD antibody concentration below clinical protection level (≥1:8 titers) for CA16 (odds ratio, OR: 2.74 [95% confidence interval (CI): 1.33, 5.61] and for EV71 (OR = 4.55, 95% CI: 1.45, 4.28). This association was higher in boys at three months of age for CA16. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that cord blood PFAS exposure is associated with lower HFMD antibody in infancy. Given the widespread nature of PFAS exposures and the high global incidence of HFMD globally, these findings have substantial public health implications and therefore, these associations need to be replicated in a larger study to more definitively address the risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-67
Number of pages8
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


  • Antibody level
  • Cord blood exposure
  • Coxsackievirus A 16
  • Enterovirus 71
  • Hand, foot and mouth disease
  • Perfluoroalkyl substances

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