The relationship between birth weight, gestational age and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)-contaminated public drinking water

Lynda A. Nolan, John M. Nolan, Frances S. Shofer, Nancy V. Rodway, Edward A. Emmett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Recent studies have examined the associations between perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) levels in cord blood and maternal plasma with lowered birth weight and gestational age in humans; however, no study has examined these effects in a population of known high PFOA exposure. Residents drinking PFOA-contaminated water from the Little Hocking Water Association (LHWA) in Washington County, Ohio have serum PFOA levels approximately 80 times those in the general U.S. population. Objectives: To compare birth weights and gestational ages of neonates born to mothers residing in zip codes with water service provided completely, partially or not at all by the LHWA. Methods: Multiple logistic and linear regression analyses were performed on singleton neonatal birth weight data supplied by the Ohio Department of Health to examine the associations between LHWA water service category (used as a surrogate for PFOA exposure) with mean birth weight, mean gestational age, the likelihood of low birth weight (<2500 g), and the likelihood of preterm birth (<37 completed weeks of gestation). All models were adjusted for maternal age, gestational age, sex, race and population-level socioeconomic status. Results: The incidence of low birth weight, preterm birth, mean birth weight and mean gestational age of neonates did not significantly differ among water service categories. Conclusion: Markedly elevated PFOA exposure, as categorized by water service category, is not associated with increased risk of lowered birth weight or gestational age. This study does not confirm earlier findings of an association between PFOA and lowered birth weight observed at normal population levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-238
Number of pages8
JournalReproductive Toxicology
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Birth weight
  • C8
  • Fetal development
  • Gestational age
  • Little hocking water
  • Low birth weight
  • Perflurooctanoic acid
  • PFOA
  • Preterm gestation


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