(Beyond Pesticides, April 15, 2021) Gestational (during pregnancy) and childhood exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) increase cardiometabolic risk, or the risk of heart diseases and metabolic disorders, later in life, according to a Brown University study published in Environment International. Past studies associate exposure to chemical pollutants with increased susceptibility to adverse health effects during critical fetal and childhood developmental periods. Some of these health effects are cardiometabolic risk factors, including obesity, insulin issues, abnormal blood pressure, that increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) and metabolic disorders (e.g., type 2 diabetes). PFAS are of particular concern as these endocrine-disrupting chemicals are common in non-stick cookware, cleaning/personal care products, food packaging, and other consumer products. They are now being found in pesticide products. Because of their ubiquitous use in many products, studies report that PFAS compounds are detectable in infants, children, and pregnant women. Furthermore, pregnant women can readily transfer compounds to the developing fetus through the placenta.
Cardiovascular disease and diabetes are among the leading causes of death globally. Additionally, heart conditions are one leading cause of disability in the U.S., as research demonstrates environmental pollutant exposure can increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, including stroke, heart attack, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, and cardiac arrest. Therefore, it is essential to mitigate harmful chemical exposure to safeguard human health, especially during critical developmental periods. Researchers note, “ [F]uture epidemiolocal studies are needed to investigate the impact of other PFAS and PFAS mixture on cardiometabolic risk and investigate the biological mechanisms underlying these associations.”