Maternal blood metal levels and fetal markers of metabolic function (Abstract)

Ashley-Martin J, Dodds L, Arbuckle TE, Ettinger AS, Shapiro GD, Fisher M, Taback S, Bouchard MF, Monnier P, Dallaire R, Fraser WD. Environmental Research. 2015;136:27-34. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2014.10.024

Exposure to metals commonly found in the environment has been hypothesized to be associated with measures of fetal growth but the epidemiological literature is limited. The Maternal–Infant Research on Environmental Chemicals (MIREC) study recruited 2001 women during the first trimester of pregnancy from 10 Canadian sites. Our objective was to assess the association between prenatal exposure to metals (lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury) and fetal metabolic function. Average maternal metal concentrations in 1st and 3rd trimester blood samples were used to represent prenatal metals exposure. Leptin and adiponectin were measured in 1363 cord blood samples and served as markers of fetal metabolic function. Polytomous logistic regression models were used to estimate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for the association between metals and both high (≥90%) and low (≤10%) fetal adiponectin and leptin levels. Leptin levels were significantly higher in female infants compared to males. A significant relationship between maternal blood cadmium and odds of high leptin was observed among males but not females in adjusted models. When adjusting for birth weight z-score, lead was associated with an increased odd of high leptin. No other significant associations were found at the top or bottom 10th percentile in either leptin or adiponectin models. This study supports the proposition that maternal levels of cadmium influence cord blood adipokine levels in a sex-dependent manner. Further investigation is required to confirm these findings and to determine how such findings at birth will translate into childhood anthropometric measures.