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.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis