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

April 2, 2015, Dartmouth College

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

It's not just for kids—even adults appear to benefit from a regular bedtime

September 21, 2018
Sufficient sleep has been proven to help keep the body healthy and the mind sharp. But it's not just an issue of logging at least seven hours of Z's.

Patient-centered visual aid helps physicians discuss risks, treatments with parents

September 21, 2018
A series of illustrations and charts designed as decision aids for parents of children with minor head injuries helped them communicate with emergency medicine physicians and make informed decisions about their child's care, ...

Alcohol responsible for one in 20 deaths worldwide: WHO

September 21, 2018
Alcohol kills three million people worldwide each year—more than AIDS, violence and road accidents combined, the World Health Organization said Friday, adding that men are particularly at risk.

Smart pills dumb down medical care, experts warn

September 21, 2018
Enthusiasm for an emerging digital health tool, the smart pill, is on the rise but researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have published a paper in the American Journal of Bioethics that cautions health care ...

China's doctor shortage prompts rush for AI health care

September 20, 2018
Qu Jianguo, 64, had a futuristic medical visit in Shanghai as he put his wrist through an automated pulse-taking machine and received the result within two minutes on a mobile phone—without a doctor present.

Time to ban the sale of energy drinks to children, says senior doctor

September 19, 2018
It's time to bring in laws to ban the sale of caffeinated energy drinks to children and young people in England to tackle the twin epidemics of obesity and mental health problems, argues Professor Russell Viner, President ...

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.