Placenta reflects arsenic exposure in pregnant women and fetuses, study shows

April 2, 2015

The placenta can be used to reliably measure arsenic exposure in pregnant women and how much of the toxic metal is transferred to their fetuses, a Dartmouth College study shows.

The study, the largest ever analysis of household drinking water and the mother-to-fetus connection, appears in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology.

Recent studies have used the placenta to identify early effects of exposure to lead, mercury, cadmium and other metals. Previous studies also have shown that arsenic readily crosses the placenta and may adversely affect fetal development. But little is known about arsenic concentrations in the placenta and their relation to maternal and infant exposure, particularly at low levels.

The Dartmouth researchers measured total arsenic concentrations in placental samples from 652 women. They compared these data to urinary arsenic collected from the women during pregnancy, along with post-partum arsenic in toenail clippings from the women and their infants. The researchers also examined associations between placental arsenic and the women's from private well water and rice consumption. Lastly, they computed the ratio of maternal-to-infant toenail concentrations of arsenic, which is an indicator of maternal-infant arsenic transfer.

The results showed that placenta arsenic concentrations were positively associated with in maternal urine, maternal and infant toenails and household drinking water. Lower ratios of maternal-to-infant toenail arsenic concentrations, which indicate greater placental transfer, were observed at high placental arsenic concentrations.

"Our findings show placental arsenic concentrations reflect both maternal and fetal biomarker concentrations," says lead author Tracy Punshon, a research assistant professor of biological sciences. "They support placenta as a potentially useful biomarker of arsenic exposure, particularly in studies of placental function. They suggest greater maternal-fetal transfer when placental arsenic is high."

Explore further: Infant toenails reveal in utero exposure to low-level arsenic, study finds

More information: Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, www.nature.com/jes/journal/vao … full/jes201516a.html

Related Stories

Infant toenails reveal in utero exposure to low-level arsenic, study finds

July 7, 2014
Infant toenails are a reliable way to estimate arsenic exposure before birth, a Dartmouth College study shows.

Baby formula poses higher arsenic risk to newborns than breast milk, study shows

February 23, 2015
In the first U.S. study of urinary arsenic in babies, Dartmouth College researchers found that formula-fed infants had higher arsenic levels than breast-fed infants, and that breast milk itself contained very low arsenic ...

Study shows diet alone can be significant source of arsenic

November 20, 2013
Diet alone can be a significant source of arsenic exposure regardless of arsenic concentrations in drinking and cooking water, a Dartmouth College-led study finds.

Arsenic metabolism linked to diabetes incidence

March 31, 2015
(HealthDay)—Arsenic metabolism is prospectively associated with diabetes incidence, according to a study published in the April issue of Diabetes Care.

What you eat can prevent arsenic overload

June 28, 2012
Millions of people worldwide are exposed to arsenic from contaminated water, and we are all exposed to arsenic via the food we eat. New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal Nutrition Journal has demonstrated ...

Recommended for you

Expert: Be concerned about how apps collect, share health data

October 20, 2017
As of 2016 there were more than 165,000 health and wellness apps available though the Apple App Store alone. According to Rice University medical media expert Kirsten Ostherr, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates ...

Three million Americans carry loaded handguns daily, study finds

October 19, 2017
An estimated 3 million adult American handgun owners carry a firearm loaded and on their person on a daily basis, and 9 million do so on a monthly basis, new research indicates. The vast majority cited protection as their ...

More teens than ever aren't getting enough sleep

October 19, 2017
If you're a young person who can't seem to get enough sleep, you're not alone: A new study led by San Diego State University Professor of Psychology Jean Twenge finds that adolescents today are sleeping fewer hours per night ...

Across Asia, liver cancer is linked to herbal remedies: study

October 18, 2017
Researchers have uncovered widespread evidence of a link between traditional Chinese herbal remedies and liver cancer across Asia, a study said Wednesday.

Eating better throughout adult years improves physical fitness in old age, suggests study

October 18, 2017
People who have a healthier diet throughout their adult lives are more likely to be stronger and fitter in older age than those who don't, according to a new study led by the University of Southampton.

Global calcium consumption appears low, especially in Asia

October 18, 2017
Daily calcium intake among adults appears to vary quite widely around the world in distinct regional patterns, according to a new systematic review of research data ahead of World Osteoporosis Day on Friday, Oct. 20.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.