Prenatal Arsenic Exposure and Consequences for Pregnancy Outcome and Infant Health : Epidemiological Studies in Bangladesh

by Rahman, Anisur

Abstract (Summary)

The aim of this thesis was to analyse possible effects of prenatal arsenic exposure on foetal and infant health. The setting is Bangladesh, where two cohorts were studied, both part of a health and demographic surveillance system in Matlab. A historical cohort 1991-2000 included 29,134 pregnant women with information on drinking water sources and arsenic testing of tube well water. A prospective cohort study included pregnant women 2002 - 2003 where urinary arsenic concentrations were assessed twice during pregnancy; 2,924 women and their pregnancy outcomes were evaluated for foetal loss, perinatal and infant mortality; 1,578 mother-infant pairs were analysed for size at birth; and 1,552 were analysed for morbidity during infancy.

Women exposed to arsenic levels ? 50 µg/L in water had an increased risk of foetal loss and infant death in comparison with women exposed to arsenic levels < 50 µg/L. These findings were confirmed in the prospective cohort study. Women with urine arsenic concentrations at the 5th quintile had 62% increased risk of spontaneous abortion (OR 1.62, 95% CI 1.04 - 2.55) in comparison with women who had arsenic concentrations at the 1st quintile level. Increased risks of perinatal morality (RR 3.01, 95% CI 1.07 - 8.45) and infant mortality (RR 5.01; 95% CI: 1.41 - 17.84) were also observed at the 5th quintile of exposure.

Significant negative dose-effect associations were found between arsenic exposure and birth weight, head and chest circumferences at a relatively low level of exposure (<100 µg/L in urine). In this range of exposure birth weight decreased by 1.68 g (SE 0.62) for each 1 µg/L increase of arsenic in urine.

In comparison with exposure at the 1st quintile level the risk of lower respiratory tract infection was significantly increased (RR 1.68, 95% CI 1.35-2.07) for women who had urinary arsenic concentrations at the 5th quintile level. The risk was also increased for diarrhoeal diseases.

The study findings highlight the negative effects of arsenic exposures on pregnancy outcomes and infant health. Mitigation programs need to be strengthened and women of reproductive ages should be prioritized in arsenic affected regions worldwide.


Bibliographical Information:


School:Uppsala universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:MEDICINE; arsenic; groundwater; foetal loss; birth weight; lower respiratory tract infection; diarrhoeal diseases; infant mortality; cohort; Bangladesh; Medicine; medicin


Date of Publication:01/01/2009

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