Polychlorinated biphenyls in blood plasma among Swedish female fish consumers in relation to low birth weight

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The authors examined the hypothesized association between the body burden of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) in women and the risk of low birth weight for their infants. In Sweden, a main exposure route for PCBs and other persistent organochlorine compounds is through the consumption of fatty fish from the Baltic Sea (on the Swedish east coast). A previous comparison between a cohort of consumers of large quantities of fish from the Swedish east coast and a reference population, together with a following analysis based on questionnaire data from a case-control study within the east coast cohort, supported the hypothesized association. In 1995, blood samples were collected from the wives and ex-wives of fishermen from the Swedish east coast (n = 192) who had given birth during the period 1973-1991. Cases (n = 57), i.e., infants with low birth weight (1,500-2,750 g), were matched with controls (n = 135; birth weight, 3,250-4,500 g) on gender, parity, and calendar year of birth. The concentration of 2,2',4,4',5,5'-hexachlorobiphenyl (CB-153) in plasma was analyzed; it has been suggested that CB-153 is a relevant biomarker of exposure to PCBs. The concentration of CB-153 in the plasma of mothers during the year of childbirth was "estimated" using some alternative plausible kinetic models. For two alternative estimated exposure datasets, which were focused on separately, an increase in the risk of a low birth weight was observed at a CB-153 concentration of 300 and 400 ng/g lipid weight, respectively (adjusted odds ratios of 2.1 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.0-4.7) and 2.3 (95% CI 0.9-5.9)). The present results strengthen the findings reported previously for this study population.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology


  • eating, fish, birth weight, polychlorinated biphenyis
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-502
JournalAmerican Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1998
Publication categoryResearch