Prenatal exposure to bisphenols and phthalates and postpartum depression: The role of neurosteroid hormone disruption.

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Postpartum depression (PPD) is a serious psychiatric disorder. While causes remain poorly understood, perinatal sex hormone fluctuations are an important factor, and allopregnanolone in particular has emerged as a key determinant. While synthetic environmental chemicals such as bisphenols and phthalates are known to affect sex hormones, no studies have measured allopregnanolone and the consequences of these hormonal changes on PPD have not been interrogated.To investigate associations of repeated measures of urinary bisphenols and phthalates in early- and mid-pregnancy with serum pregnenolone, progesterone, allopregnanolone, and pregnanolone concentrations in mid-pregnancy and PPD symptoms at four months postpartum.Prospective cohort study of 139 pregnant women recruited between 2016-18. Bisphenols and phthalates were measured in early- and mid-pregnancy urine samples. Serum sex steroid hormone concentrations were measured in mid-pregnancy. PPD was assessed at 4 months postpartum using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS). Multiple informant models were fit using generalized estimating equations.Serum levels of allopregnanolone, progesterone, pregnanolone, and pregnenolone were examined as log-transformed continuous variables. PPD symptoms were examined as continuous EPDS scores and dichotomously with scores ≥10 defined as PPD.Di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP) and diisononyl phthalate (DiNP) metabolites were associated with reduced progesterone concentrations. Log-unit increases in ∑DnOP and ∑DiNP predicted 8.1% (95% Confidence Interval (CI): -15.2%, -0.4%) and 7.7% (95% CI: -13.3%, -1.7%) lower progesterone, respectively. ∑DnOP was associated with increased odds of PPD (odds ratio=1.48 (95% CI: 1.04, 2.11)).Endocrine disrupting chemicals may influence hormonal shifts during pregnancy as well as contribute to PPD.


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Authors: Melanie H Jacobson, Cheryl R Stein, Mengling Liu, Marra G Ackerman, Jennifer K Blakemore, Sara E Long, Graziano Pinna, Raquel Romay-Tallon, Kurunthachalam Kannan, Hongkai Zhu, Leonardo Trasande

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