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Biochemistry - Obstetrics - Pediatrics and Child Health - Public Health and Epidemiology

Assessment of Prenatal Exposure to Arsenic in Tenerife Island
Published: Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Author: Oriol Vall et al.

by Oriol Vall, Mario Gómez-Culebras, Oscar Garcia-Algar, Xavier Joya, Dinoraz Velez, Eva Rodríguez-Carrasco, Carme Puig


Increasing awareness of the potential chronic health effects of arsenic (As) at low exposure levels has motivated efforts to better understand impaired child development during pregnancy by biomarkers of exposure. The aims of this study were to evaluate the prenatal exposure to As by analysis of an alternative matrix (meconium), to examine its effects on neonatal outcomes and investigate the association with maternal lifestyle and dietary habits during pregnancy.


A transversal descriptive study was conducted in Tenerife (Spain). A total of 96 mother-child pairs participated in the study. A questionnaire on sociodemographic, lifestyle and dietary habits during pregnancy was administered the day after the delivery. Analysis of total As in meconium was performed by inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectrometer.


Total As was detected in 37 (38.5%) meconium samples. The univariate logistic regression model indicates that prenatal exposure to As was associated with a low intake of eggs per week (OR 0.56; CI (95%): 0.34–0.94) during pregnancy. Conversely, frequent intake of vegetables was associated with prenatal As exposure (OR: 1.19; CI (95%): 1.01–1.41) and frequent intake of processed meat (as bacon, Frankfurt’s sausage, and hamburger) shows a trend to As prenatal exposure (OR: 8.54; CI (95%): 0.80–90.89). The adjusted multivariate logistic regression model indicates that only frequent intake of vegetables maintains the association (OR: 1.31; CI (95%): 1.02–1.68).


The studied population presented a low As exposure and was not associated with neonatal effects. Maternal consumption of vegetables during pregnancy was associated with detectable meconium As levels; however the concentration detected in meconium was too low to be considered a major public health concern in this geographical area.