Maternal arsenic exposure associated with low birth weight in Bangladesh

J Occup Environ Med. 2007 Oct;49(10):1097-104. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181566ba0.


Objective: To characterize the effects of maternal arsenic exposure on birth weight.

Methods: Hair, toenail, and drinking water samples were collected from pregnant women (n = 52) at multiple time points during pregnancy and from their newborns after birth. Total arsenic was measured using inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry. The association between arsenic and birth weight was investigated using linear and logistic regression models.

Results: Maternal hair arsenic measured early in pregnancy was associated with decreased birth weight (beta = -193.5 +/- 90.0 g, P = 0.04). Maternal hair and drinking water arsenic levels measured at first prenatal visit were significantly correlated with newborn hair arsenic level (rho = 0.32, P = 0.04 and rho = 0.31, P = 0.04).

Conclusions: Results suggest that maternal arsenic exposure early in pregnancy negatively affects newborn birth weight and that maternal hair provides the best integrated measure of arsenic exposure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arsenic / analysis*
  • Arsenic / pharmacology
  • Arsenic Poisoning / epidemiology*
  • Bangladesh / epidemiology
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Pilot Projects
  • Pregnancy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Water Supply / analysis


  • Arsenic