Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Low-level arsenic may impact fetal growth, Dartmouth-led study finds


Public Release: 8-Mar-2016
Low-level arsenic may impact fetal growth, Dartmouth-led study finds
Dartmouth College

Fetal growth may be impacted by low levels of arsenic that pregnant women consume in drinking water and food, a Dartmouth College study finds.


higher levels of mother's arsenic in their urine during the second trimester was related to decreased head circumference at birth. This finding is consistent with an earlier study by the same researchers that looked at head circumference measured in fetal ultrasound reports.

In the current study, researchers also found that mother's urinary arsenic levels were associated with infant's birth weight and birth length and that those associations varied by the mother's pre-pregnancy body mass index (body weight in kgs/height in cm2) as well as the infant's sex. The study included more than 700 pairs of women and their newborns and therefore was large enough to identify such differences.


Arsenic, which can contaminate our food and water supply, is a common metalloid on the earth's crust that is used for industrial purposes.

"This is a particular concern in rural regions where many people rely on private, unregulated drinking water," says senior author Margaret Karagas, professor and chair of Geisel's Department of Epidemiology. "People who use private wells need to have them tested for arsenic and other contaminants as recommended by their local public health agency."

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