Relation between prenatal lipid-soluble micronutrient status, environmental pollutant exposure, and birth outcomes.

Background:Adverse postnatal health effects have been associated with compromised fetal growth, which makes it essential to understand its determinants. Significant effects of environmental pollutants on birth outcomes have been observed in our study population, and nutritional status may be an additional factor influencing fetal development and effects of environmental toxins.

Objective:The objective of the study was to examine the relations between birth outcomes and lipid-soluble plasma micronutrient concentrations and to explore interactions between micronutrients and environmental pollutant exposure in newborns in Krakow, Poland.

Design:In this prospective cohort study, retinol, α-tocopherol, and carotenoids were measured in maternal and cord blood samples obtained at delivery (251 maternal-newborn pairs), and birth weight, birth length, head circumference (HC), and gestational age were evaluated. Linear regression analysis was used to estimate the effects of micronutrients while covariates were controlled for. Interaction terms assessed whether the effects of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), common environmental pollutants, varied by nutrient status.

Results:Infants whose mothers had low plasma α-tocopherol concentrations (below the median) weighed 92.9 g less and had 0.41-cm smaller HCs than did infants whose mothers had high α-tocopherol concentrations. Infants with low plasma retinol (below the median) weighed 125.9 g less and had 0.31-cm smaller HCs. There was no evidence of an interaction between PAHs and micronutrients, although power was limited.

Conclusion:Maternal α-tocopherol and cord retinol concentrations were significantly and positively associated with BW and HC. These micronutrients may have direct effects or may be markers for other underlying determinants of these pregnancy outcomes.

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