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, 120 (12), 1739-45

Birth Weight, Head Circumference, and Prenatal Exposure to Acrylamide From Maternal Diet: The European Prospective Mother-Child Study (NewGeneris)

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Birth Weight, Head Circumference, and Prenatal Exposure to Acrylamide From Maternal Diet: The European Prospective Mother-Child Study (NewGeneris)

Marie Pedersen et al. Environ Health Perspect.


Background: Acrylamide is a common dietary exposure that crosses the human placenta. It is classified as a probable human carcinogen, and developmental toxicity has been observed in rodents.

Objectives: We examined the associations between prenatal exposure to acrylamide and birth outcomes in a prospective European mother-child study.

Methods: Hemoglobin (Hb) adducts of acrylamide and its metabolite glycidamide were measured in cord blood (reflecting cumulated exposure in the last months of pregnancy) from 1,101 singleton pregnant women recruited in Denmark, England, Greece, Norway, and Spain during 2006-2010. Maternal diet was estimated through food-frequency questionnaires.

Results: Both acrylamide and glycidamide Hb adducts were associated with a statistically significant reduction in birth weight and head circumference. The estimated difference in birth weight for infants in the highest versus lowest quartile of acrylamide Hb adduct levels after adjusting for gestational age and country was -132 g (95% CI: -207, -56); the corresponding difference for head circumference was -0.33 cm (95% CI: -0.61, -0.06). Findings were similar in infants of nonsmokers, were consistent across countries, and remained after adjustment for factors associated with reduced birth weight. Maternal consumption of foods rich in acrylamide, such as fried potatoes, was associated with cord blood acrylamide adduct levels and with reduced birth weight.

Conclusions: Dietary exposure to acrylamide was associated with reduced birth weight and head circumference. Consumption of specific foods during pregnancy was associated with higher acrylamide exposure in utero. If confirmed, these findings suggest that dietary intake of acrylamide should be reduced among pregnant women.

Conflict of interest statement

H.v.S., P.R., and M.T. are stakeholders in Adduct Analys AB, Stockholm, Sweden, the company that owns the patent for the analytical method used for the hemoglobin adduct measurements. The other authors and collaborators declare they have no actual or potential competing financial interests.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Acrylamide Hb adduct levels (pmol/g Hb) in mother–child pairs (n = 172).
Figure 2
Figure 2
Forest plot of the association between acrylamide hemoglobin adducts (highest relative to the lowest quartilea) and birth weight by country and combined meta-analytic estimate, adjusted for gestational age (completed weeks) in the full population (A), and in nonsmokers (B). Gray shaded areas superimposed over the country-specific point estimates are proportional to the country-specific weights used in the meta-analyses, and the associated 95% CIs are shown as horizontal black lines. The summary β, which corresponds to the change in birth weight (grams) for the highest relative to the lowest quartile of acrylamide, is indicated with a red dashed vertical line and blue diamond, and the associated 95% CIs are indicated by the lateral tips of the diamond. The solid vertical line refers to no change in birth weight. The names of the countries are shown on the left and the country-specific βs, 95% CIs, and weights of each study on the right. Full population (n = 1,101): test for heterogeneity, Q = 2.5 on 4 degrees of freedom (p = 0.640). Nonsmokers (n = 972): test for heterogeneity, Q = 1.0 on 4 degrees of freedom (p = 0.902). aAcrylamide adduct quartiles for all: ≤ 10.9 vs. > 21.7 and for nonsmokers: ≤ 10.5 vs. > 19.2 pmol/g Hb.
Figure 3
Figure 3
Association of maternal acrylamide exposure through diet among nonsmokers (n = 801) estimated through an acrylamide-rich food score with acrylamide hemoglobin adducts in cord blood (A) and birth weight (B). Generalized additive model with a smoothed spline for acrylamide-rich food score adjusting for country, and gestational age (completed weeks). Dashed lines are 95% CIs.

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