In February 2019 researchers from the USA published the results of their study to assess the association between polybrominated diphenyl ethers and children being overweight/obese at age 8 years. A total of 206 children were involved in the study. Blood serum levels of polybrominated diphenyl ethers were measured at ages 1, 2, 3, 5, and 8 years, and at 8 years the child’s weight, height, waist circumference and body fat percentage were assessed. Results showed that higher levels of 2,2′,4,4′,5,5′-hexabromodiphenyl ether (BDE-153) appeared to be associated with a reduction in all measures relating to body fat. In fact a 10-fold increase of BDE-153 was associated with a 2% decrease in body fat at age 1 year and a 7% decrease at 8 years. No statistically significant associations were found with other polybrominated diphenyl ethers studied. A further analysis revealed that the gender of the child did modify some of the findings, eg the association between higher levels of BDE-153 and reduced body fat was stronger in boys. However, in girls higher levels of BDE-153 was seen to result in either an increase in body fat or there was no association at all.
Vuong AM et al. Exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) during childhood and adiposity measures at age 8 years. Environ Int. 2019 Feb;123:148-155.