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February, 2017
EWHA's Research Power for Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences


​Serum levels of Persistent Organic Pollutants and Insulin Secretion among Children Age 7-9 years: A Prospective Cohort Study





by Prof. Hye sook Park  (hpark@ewha.ac.kr)

Department of Preventive Medicine, School of Medicine



Hyesook Park, a professor of Preventive Medicine at School of Medicine and her colleagues have found that exposure to Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) among children might affect insulin secretory function, which could lead to an increased risk of developing diabetes. This study was published in Environmental Health Perspectives in 2016.

POP, environmental chemical compounds, including organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), are still present in the environment due to their characteristics of persistency and bioaccumulation, although their usage and production have been banned and restricted since the 1970s. Human exposure to POPs is mainly due to the consumption of contaminated fish, meat, and dairy food products in the general population. Recently, epidemiologic evidence has emerged suggesting that exposure to environmental endocrine-disrupting chemicals might interfere with or mimic normal physiologic processes, resulting in an increased risk of diabetes. However, few studies have been performed to investigate this association among children.

Therefore, we prospectively examined the relationship between the serum concentration of POPs and glucose metabolism in children. We collected data from the Ewha Birth & Growth Cohort Study, an ongoing birth cohort study constructed between 2001 and 2006. In 2010-2012, the POP concentration was measured in serum from a total of 214 children, aged 7 to 9 years. We previously reported serum levels of POP concentration in the Environmental Science and Pollution Research. To assess the interrelationship between insulin sensitivity and pancreatic β-cell function in a feedback loop, we used the HOMA model, including the homeostatic model assessment of beta-cell function (HOMA-β) and homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR). Our result revealed that the HOMA-β values remained low in subjects who had higher concentrations of total PCBs at the 2-year follow-up period, suggesting a potential mechanism whereby POPs might decrease insulin secretory function, which potentially increase the risk of diabetes later in life.  


Figure 1. Adjusted* Least square means of HOMA-β at baseline and 2-year follow-up according to tertiles of total PCBs

F2: 2 year follow-up * Adjusted for baseline age (months), sex, BMI z-score, mother's education level, ponderal index, and breastfeeding (yes/no) 



Figure 2. Adjusted* least square means of HOMA-β at baseline and 2-year follow-up according to tertiles of total OCPs

F2: 2 year follow-up *Adjusted for baseline age (months), sex, BMI z-score, mother's education level, ponderal index, and breastfeeding (yes/no)

* Related Article
Park SH, Ha EH, Hong YS, Park H. 2016. Serum levels of persistent organic pollutants and insulin secretion among children age 7–9 years: a prospective cohort study. Environ Health Perspect. 2016 Dec; 124(12):1924–1930; Epub 2016 Jun 7.


Park SH, Hong YS, Ha EH, Park H. Serum concentrations of PCBs and OCPs among prepubertal Korean children. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2016 Feb;23(4):3536-47. doi: 10.1007/s11356-015-5578-0. Erratum in: Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2016 Apr;23(7):7070.  doi: 10.1007/s11356-015-5578-0. Epub 2015 Oct 21. 

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