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Understanding the Population Risks of PBDEs

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A PHI study tested the hypotheses that polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) accumulate differently in the human fetal liver and placenta than in maternal serum, and that fetal exposure to PBDEs affects fetal metabolic capacity. PBDEs are an important public health concern, as in vitro and in vivo studies show that in utero exposure can adversely impact fetal development. 

The study measured levels of PBDEs in human maternal and fetal biological specimens from women undergoing voluntary, second trimester pregnancy terminations. From the medical procedure, researchers collected 130 matched sets of maternal serum, placenta, and fetal liver. At the end of this study, researchers produced unique information about human fetal exposure to PBDEs during the second trimester, including empirical relationships between maternal and fetal exposures which can be used to estimate fetal exposures when only maternal levels are available. BDE-28, 47, 100, 99, and153 were predominately detected. The serum and the liver showed higher PBDE concentrations than the placenta, with BDE 47 being the major congener in all matrices.

Collectively, this information now helps to bridge the gap between experimental toxicology and human observation studies and will improve our understanding of population risks to PBDEs

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