Exposure to a mixture of Polychlorinated biphenyls and polychlorinated dibenzofurans resulted in a prolonged time to pregnancy in women

Chiu Yueh Yang, Ying Jan Wang, Pau Chung Chen, Shaw Jenq Tsai, Yueliang Leon Guo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dibenzofurans (PCDFs), and dibenzodioxins (PCDDs) may affect the female reproductive system in animals and humans. In 1978-1979, a mass poisoning occurred in central Taiwan due to PCB/PCDF-contaminated cooking oil; this incident was called Yucheng ("oil disease" in Chinese). Objective: The purpose of our study was to determine whether PCB/PCDF exposure affected fertility in exposed women. Methods: After the event, we followed the exposed individuals and a reference group who were sex-, age-, and community-matched. In 2003, we obtained fertility histories from Yucheng and reference women by telephone interview. We used Kaplan-Meier survival curves and multi-variable Cox regression to compare time to pregnancy (TTP) between Yucheng and reference women, and we performed multiple logistic regression to determine whether PCB/PCDF exposure caused infertility. Results: In total, 412 women responded, with a median TTP of 4 months in Yucheng women and 3 months in reference women (p = 0.019). After adjusting for confounders by Cox regression, we found a fecundability ratio of 0.90 [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.80-1.00] for Yucheng women. Among the 408 women who, had noncontoceptive sexual activity for > 12 months, 19.7% of Yucheng women and 9.7% of reference women did not become pregnant (i.e., they were infertile). After we adjusted for confounders by logistic regression, the infertility odds ratio was 2.34 (95% CI, 1.23-4.59) for Yucheng women compared with the reference group. Conclusions: We found prolonged TTP and reduced fertility among women previously exposed to PCBs/PCDFs. Because of the limited sample size and the relatively small decrease in the fertility rate, these effects require cautious interpretation and further investigation for confirmation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)599-604
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2008 May

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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