Prenatal thallium exposure and poor growth in early childhood: A prospective birth cohort study.Environ Int. 2019 02; 123:224-230.EI
Thallium (Tl) exposure remains a public health problem with potential impacts on humans. Studies have suggested that prenatal exposure to thallium may be associated with fetal growth, but no studies are known have explored its association with early childhood anthropometry.
To investigate the effects of prenatal Tl exposures on early child growth and development aged 0-2 years in a prospective birth cohort study.
3080 pregnant women and their children participated in the study, which were recruited from a birth cohort in China. Serum samples collected in the first and second trimester of pregnant subjects and umbilical cord blood of infants were analyzed for Tl exposure assessment. Infant length or standing height and weight were obtained from medical records and 2 years planned visits. We used length/height and weight to calculate z-scores for weight-for-age (WAZ), height-for-age (HAZ), weight-for-height (WHZ), and body mass index-for-age (zBMI) based on World Health Organization standards. Linear mixed model was used to investigate the association between serum concentrations of Tl and the children's anthropometric characteristics (WAZ, HAZ, WHZ, and zBMI), and stratification analysis by sex was also examined.
The median (P25-P75) of Tl levels in the first trimester, second trimester and umbilical cord serum were 61.7 (50.7-77.0), 60.1 (50.9-74.8) and 38.4 (33.6-43.9) ng/L, respectively. Paired Mann-Whitney tests found Tl concentrations in umbilical cord serum were significantly less than that in maternal serum during the first and second trimesters (all p < 0.01). Using adjusted linear mixed model, no significant relationships were observed between maternal Tl exposure and child growth parameters. However, the umbilical cord serum Tl levels may contributed to decreased WAZ (β = -0.382, 95% confidence interval (CI): -0.670, -0.095) and HAZ (β = -0.427, 95% CI: -0.702, -0.152). When stratified by sex, the umbilical cord serum Tl levels were negatively related to WAZ (β = -0.450, 95% CI: -0.853, -0.048) and HAZ (β = -0.775, 95% CI: -1.160, -0.391) for girls. Among boys, overall Tl exposures were not significantly associated with early children anthropometric outcomes.
In the present study, our results suggested that prenatal Tl exposures may have a sex specific effect on child anthropometric measurements in the first 2 years of life. Umbilical cord serum Tl levels tended to be reduced child's stature and weight in young girls.