Epidemiologic studies have reported the association between fetal exposure of Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and birth outcome such as birth weight or gestational age at birth. We aimed to investigate the relationship between VOCs and birth weight, focused on individual compounds of VOCs.
Prospective birth cohort study(MOCEH) was conducted in Seoul, Cheonan, and Ulsan since 2006 and total of 1558 pregnant women were enrolled. Basic investigations on maternal information including demographic and socioeconomic status, previous obstetric and residential characteristics were done by questionnaires. Three hundred seventy-eight personal VOCs were assessed by using passive sampler during pregnancy. We analyzed 11 individual compounds of VOCs including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, formaldehyde, and total VOCs as an environmental exposure. Following delivery, the trained nurses investigated medical records to attain obstetric and neonatal information. After excluding twin, abortion, and stillbirth, total 296 were used in analyses. In statistical analyses, VOCs was log-transformed for skewness and multivariate general linear model (GLM) was used (SAS 9.1).
The mean concentrations of TVOC and HCHO were 234 μg/m3 and 77.29 μg/m3, respectively. TVOC was related to the number of cohabitants, existing of sofa, and distance to factory. HCHO concentrations showed positive relationship with the number of cohabitants, using air conditioner and existing of bed but negative relationship with house age. Elevated VOCs exposure showed significant relationship with birth weight when log-1-unit increase of benzene (β = −208.98, P = 0.04), TVOC (β = −181.2, P < 0.01), HCHO (β = −156.30, P = 0.05), and toluene (β = −76.04, P = 0.05) after adjusting maternal age, gestational age at delivery, family income, parity, newborn's gender and related residential factors such as house age.
These results indicated that elevated exposure to VOCs during pregnancy may decrease birth weight of newborns, particularly benzene. Moreover each compound of VOCs shows different estimates to birth weight. Therefore it is needed to pay special attention to individual compounds not just TVOC in pregnant population.
This study was supported by the Ministry of Environment, Republic of Korea.