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Author Notes:

Corresponding Author: Melanie Hyman Jacobson, MPH, 1518 Clifton Road NE, CNR 3rd Floor, Atlanta, GA 30322, Telephone: (914) 589-3926, mhymanjacobson@emory.edu

The authors would like to thank Dr. Mitch Klein for his assistance with multiple imputation procedures, as well as Drs. Jonathan Chevrier and Andreas Sjodin for their insightful comments and helpful critique of this work.

We also acknowledge Christina Ryan, Elizabeth Marder, Parinya Panuwet, Ronald Hunter, Priya D’Souza, P. Barry Ryan, Emma Preston, and Grace Lee.

Conflict of interest: None


Research Funding:

Funding provided by NIEHS grant R21ES019697, NICHD Reproductive, Perinatal, & Pediatric Training Grant T32HD052460, and NIOSH Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology Training Grant 5T03OH008609-10.

Assay services were provided by the Biomarkers Core Laboratory at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center.

This facility is supported by the Yerkes National Primate Research Center Base Grant 2P51RR000165-51.


  • Science & Technology
  • Life Sciences & Biomedicine
  • Environmental Sciences
  • Public, Environmental & Occupational Health
  • Environmental Sciences & Ecology
  • Brominated flame retardants
  • PBDEs
  • Thyroid hormones
  • Thyroid function
  • Endocrine disruption

Serum polybrominated diphenyl ether concentrations and thyroid function in young children


Journal Title:

Environmental Research


Volume 149


, Pages 222-230

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Thyroid hormones are essential for proper neurodevelopment in early life. There is evidence that exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) affects thyroid function, but previous studies have been inconsistent, and no studies among children have been conducted in the United States where PBDE levels are particularly high. Serum levels of seven PBDE congeners and thyroid hormones and other thyroid parameters were measured in 80 children aged 1-5 years from the southeastern United States between 2011 and 2012. Parents of the children completed questionnaires with details on demographics and behaviors. Multivariate linear regression models were used to estimate the associations between serum PBDE levels, expressed as quartiles and as log-transformed continuous variables, and markers of thyroid function. BDE-47, 99, 100 and 153 were detected in > 60% of samples, and were summed (∑PBDE). PBDE congeners and ∑PBDE were positively associated with thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). A log-unit increase in ∑PBDE was associated with a 22.1% increase in TSH (95% CI: 2.0%, 47.7%). Compared with children in the lowest quartile of ∑PBDE exposure, children in higher quartiles had greater TSH concentrations as modeled on the log-scale (second quartile: β=0.32, 95% confidence interval (CI): -0.09, 0.74; third quartile: β=0.44, 95% CI: 0.04, 0.85; and fourth quartile: β=0.49, 95% CI: 0.09, 0.89). There was also a tendency toward lower total T 4 and higher free T 3 with increasing PBDE exposure. Results suggest that exposure to PBDEs during childhood subclinically disrupts thyroid hormone function, with impacts in the direction of hypothyroidism.

Copyright information:

© 2016 Elsevier Inc..

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