Chemicals and Pregnancy Complications: Findings from Nontargeted Analysis
1:00 pm US Eastern Time
Jessica Trowbridge: Chemicals and Pregnancy Complications: Findings from Non-Targeted Analysis.
Suspect Screening, Prioritization, and Confirmation of Environmental Chemicals in Maternal-Newborn Pairs from San Francisco (EDC Strategies Partnership webinar, 2021)
Cameron et al., 2022. Trends in the Incidence of New‐Onset Hypertensive Disorders of Pregnancy Among Rural and Urban Areas in the United States, 2007 to 2019. Journal of the American Heart Association 11:2, https://doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.121.023791.
Shah et al. 2021. Trends in Gestational Diabetes at First Live Birth by Race and Ethnicity in the US, 2011-2019. JAMA 326(7):660-669. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.7217
Trowbridge et al. 2023. Extending Nontargeted Discovery of Environmental Chemical Exposures during Pregnancy and their Association with Pregnancy Complications: A Cross-Sectional Study. Environmental Health Perspectives 131:7; https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP11546.
Download our Webinar Highlights fact sheet for key findings and quotes from this webinar.
Toxic chemicals are ubiquitous in the environment. Fewer than one percent of the more than 40,000 chemicals imported, processed, or used in the U.S. are regularly biomonitored. Still fewer have been evaluated for adverse health outcomes during pregnancy. Chemical exposures during pregnancy have been linked with lifelong consequences for maternal and child health including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, adverse infant neurodevelopment, and reproductive outcomes. These health outcomes are increasing at rates that cannot be fully explained by genetics or improvements in diagnostics.
Non-targeted analysis (NTA) methods can help tentatively identify chemicals that are not regularly studied. These chemicals can then be quantified through “targeted” methods, giving us the ability to evaluate associations with adverse health outcomes.
Dr. Jessica Trowbridge and Dr. Tracey Woodruff presented findings of their new study, Extending Nontargeted Discovery of Environmental Chemical Exposures during Pregnancy and Their Association with Pregnancy Complications—A Cross-Sectional Study. This research uses the results of NTA methods to identify nine environmental chemicals in maternal samples and in cord blood, and their association with adverse pregnancy outcomes — measuring some of these chemicals for the first time in pregnant people.
Researchers found that chemical exposure is widespread, including to perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), abnormal fatty acids used in plastics production, and solvents used in consumer products, pesticide production, and plastics production. PFAS and abnormal fatty acids were found to be associated with increased odds of gestational diabetes mellitus and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy.
This study demonstrates the power of non-targeted methods to identify and measure environmental chemicals that are not regularly studied. It adds to the evidence that exposure to environmental contaminants can have lifelong consequences for pregnancy and health.
This webinar was moderated by Sharyle Patton, Director of the Biomonitoring Resource Center and member of the CHE Advisory Team.
Jessica Trowbridge, PhD is an Associate Researcher with the Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment (PRHE) at the University of California, San Francisco. Her curiosity about the impact of exposure to environmental chemicals on health came out of her experience living binationally and experiencing the environmental burdens of pollution in her communities in central Mexico and Richmond, California. She has studied exposures to toxic environmental chemicals in women firefighters and pregnant women. Dr. Trowbridge is a part of PRHE’s Science and Policy team and she studies prenatal exposure to toxic environmental chemicals and infant neurodevelopment. Through her research, Dr. Trowbridge aims to fill critical evidence gaps and to improve policies to reduce toxic exposures to vulnerable populations. Dr. Trowbridge is a proud community college graduate after which she studied Environmental Health Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley.
Tracey Woodruff, PhD, MPH, is the Director of and Alison S. Carlson Endowed Professor for PRHE and is a Professor in the UCSF Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences and the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies. She is also the Director of a newly awarded NIEHS Environmental Health Core Center grant, the Environmental Research and Translation for Health (EaRTH) Center at UCSF. She is a recognized expert on environmental pollution exposures and impacts on health, with a focus on pregnancy, infancy and childhood, and her innovations in translating and communicating scientific findings for clinical and policy audiences. She has authored numerous scientific publications, and has been quoted widely in the press, including USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle and The New York Times. Before joining UCSF, Dr. Woodruff was a senior scientist and policy advisor for the U.S. EPA’s Office of Policy. She was appointed by the governor of California in 2012 to the Science Advisory Board of the Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant (DART) Identification Committee.
This webinar was hosted by the EDC Strategies Partnership, which is co-chaired by Sharyle Patton (Commonweal Biomonitoring Resource Center), Jerry Heindel and Sarah Howard (Environmental Health Sciences' Healthy Environment and Endocrine Disruptor Strategies HEEDS), Génon Jensen (Health and Environment Alliance, HEAL), and Rachel Massey (CHE, Collaborative for Health and Environment). To see a full list of past calls and webinars related to EDCs and listen to or view recordings, please visit our partnership page.