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A Nested Case-Control Study of Intrauterine Exposure to Persistent Organochlorine Pollutants and the Risk of Hypospadias
Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012
Author: Anna Rignell-Hydbom et al.

by Anna Rignell-Hydbom, Christian H. Lindh, Joakim Dillner, Bo A. G. Jönsson, Lars Rylander


Environmental exposures to endocrine disrupting chemicals have been suggested as a risk factor for male genital abnormalities such as hypospadias. The aim of this case-control study was to investigate the association between fetal exposure to persistent organochlorine pollutants (POP) and the risk for hypospadias.

Methodology/Principal Findings

The Southern Sweden Maternity Cohort (SSMC) contains serum samples collected in early pregnancy among women in Southern Sweden. Linkages with the Medical Birth Register, the Malformation Register and the In-patient Register resulted in 390 SSMC mothers who had given birth to a boy with hypospadias in year 1986–2002 (mean 1995). For 237 of these (cases) sufficient amounts of serum for the chemical analyses were available. For each case, a control boy from the SSMC was randomly selected, matched for maternal age, birth year, parity and maternal smoking. PCB-153, p,p’-DDE and hexachlorbenzene (HCB) were used as biomarkers for POP exposure. The exposures were categorized into quartiles based on the distributions among the controls. There were no statistically significant trends between the a priori categorisation of the exposure variables and the risk for hypospadias. However, when the upper HCB quartile (>26 ng/ml) was compared to the other quartiles an odds ratio of 1.65 (95% CI 1.02 to 2.69) was obtained. p,p'-DDE levels above median (>1.0 ng/ml) compared to levels below 0.1 ng/ml gave an OR of 1.69 (95% CI 0.97 to 2.93).


The present study suggests that fetal exposure to HCB and p,p’-DDE may be a risk factor for hypospadias.