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Transgenerational inheritance of environmental obesogens
  1. Miquel Porta1,
  2. Duk-Hee Lee2,
  3. Elisa Puigdomènech1
  1. 1
    Institut Municipal d’Investigació Mèdica (IMIM), Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, CIBERESP, Spain
  2. 2
    Department of Preventive Medicine and Health Promotion Research Center, School of Medicine, Kyungpook National University, Daegu, Korea
  1. Professor Miquel Porta, Clinical and Molecular Epidemiology of Cancer Unit, Institut Municipal d’Investigació Mèdica (IMIM), Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Carrer del Dr. Aiguader 88, E-08003 Barcelona, Spain; mporta{at}

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Nowadays, dichlorodiphenyl-dichloroethylene (DDE), the main degradation product of the pesticide dichlorodiphenyl trichloroethane (DDT), is detected in all adults and in nearly all newborns in most countries worldwide.14 Thus, even a small increase in the risk of obesity that DDE might confer on offspring would have important implications.5 6 This is the main finding that Karmaus et al (see page 143) report in this issue: the weight and BMI of offspring in adulthood were significantly related to the extrapolated prenatal DDE levels of their mothers.7 Specifically, compared to maternal DDE levels below 1.5 μg/l, the authors observed an increase in offspring BMI of 1.65 when prenatal DDE was 1.5–2.9 μg/l, and an increase of 2.88 if DDE was greater than 2.9 μg/l. These concentrations of DDE are common worldwide; in cord blood, amniotic fluid and serum of pregnant women, DDE is often in the range 0.6–1.9 μg/l or 15–500 ng/g.1 4 8 9

It is often overlooked that human concentrations of DDE can vary more than a 1000-fold within the same population1; in the United States, for example, concentrations range from less …

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  • Funding: Partly funded by grants from CIBER de Epidemiología y Salud Pública (CIBERESP), Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Ministry of Health, Madrid, Spain.

  • Competing interests: None.

  • This article was presented in part to the XVIII IEA World Congress of Epidemiology (Porto Alegre, Brazil, September 20–24, 2008).

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