Pioneering Research on the Impacts of Generational Exposure to DDT & PFASs


Grandmother and grandaughter, smiling

PHI's Child Health and Development Studies is exploring the causes—and looking for solutions—to the current obesity epidemic, by looking at links between pregnancy exposures to certain chemicals to the timing of menarche and risk of obesity in both daughters and granddaughters.

3 generations of women included in the CHDS research

In 2020, PHI’s Child Health and Development Studies (CHDS) researchers and collaborator Michele La Merrill at the UC David Department of Environmental Toxicology completed the first human studies on the relation of grand-maternal exposures to the pesticide DDT and PFASs pollutants, to the timing of the first occurrence of menstruation (menarche) and risk of obesity in both daughters and granddaughters.

These studies illustrate the unique contribution of PHI’s CHDS to investigate the impact of pregnancy exposures on the three generations that are simultaneously exposed: the mother, the daughter as an embryo, and the granddaughter as a germ cell (oocyte) that forms within the daughter during embryonic life.

The current obesity epidemic and the declining age at menarche have occurred within the time span of CHDS observation—60 years from mothers’ pregnancy through grandchildren’s birth and maturation to early adulthood.

Findings are in preparation for publication and/or have been accepted as abstracts in upcoming meetings of the Endocrine Society 2020 and the Society of Toxicology, 2020.

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