Food Packaging Chemical Linked with Miscarriage: New Study

The synthetic “forever chemical” PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl) commonly found in processed food packaging, drinking water, stick resistant cookware, stain resistant carpeting and clothing, and cosmetics has been linked with an increased risk for miscarriage. The endocrine disrupting PFAS is a widely studied chemical compound that has been linked with numerous serious health outcomes including developmental problems for children such as ADHD and autism, immune function problems and cancer.

Study Overview

In the largest epidemiological study on PFAS and miscarriage to date, researchers at the Yale School of Public Health studied outcomes of pregnant women enrolled in the Danish National Birth Cohort. They compared 220 women who carried their pregnancies through birth with 220 who experienced a miscarriage in the second trimester.

Maternal serum samples were collected in early gestations (around the eighth week) in the cohort, and the serum-level of several common PFAS compounds in these women were measured. PFAS exposure levels in the Denmark pregnancy cohort was similar to the exposure level reported in the studies of U.S. general population.

Results Overview

The study estimated an increased risk for miscarriage of 80% to 120% in women with the highest level of two common PFAS compounds (including PFOA), compared with those in the cohort with the lowest PFAS levels.  The association was stronger during the second trimester of pregnancy and among women who had already borne children.

cosmetics-pfas-stockholm university

PFAS History in the U.S.

“PFAS, introduced in the 1940s, are widely used in the manufacture of everyday products around the globe — from cookware, to clothing, carpets, and firefighting foam. PFAS are also used in industries such as aerospace, automotive, construction, electronics, and the military. Production of the two most common types of PFAS has been phased out by U.S. manufacturers over concerns about the impacts on the environment and human health, but other compounds in the PFAS family are being produced as replacements. PFAS usage in commercial products is not currently regulated in the United States.*” (source)

*Interestingly enough, despite the EPA’s finding that PFAS should be a national priority and tightly regulated, while the nation was distracted by the corona virus lock down, the White House announced on April 18, 2020 that it is considering lowering restrictions for corporations importing products containing PFAS**:

White House moves to weaken EPA rule on toxic compounds

The White House repeatedly pressed the EPA to agree to a major loophole that could allow substantial imports of the PFAS-tainted products to continue, greatly weakening the proposed rule.

**The White House action was led by Nancy Beck, a former chemical industry executive now assigned to President Donald Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers.




Journal Reference: Liew, Z., et al., Maternal Plasma Perfluoroalkyl Substances and Miscarriage: A Nested Case–Control Study in the Danish National Birth Cohort, Environmental Health Perspectives, Volume 128, Issue 4, April, 2020.

Study Abstract