Exposure to food contaminants during pregnancy

Sci Total Environ. 2013 Aug 1;458-460:27-35. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2013.03.100. Epub 2013 Apr 29.


During pregnancy, the fetus is exposed to contaminants from its mother's diet. This work provides an assessment of the dietary exposure of pregnant women to inorganic contaminants (aluminum, mercury, lead, inorganic arsenic, cobalt), polychlorodibenzodioxins, polychlorodibenzofurans, dioxin-like and non-dioxin-like polychlorobiphenyls (DL-PCBs, NDL-PCBs), polybromodiphenyl ethers (PBDEs), perfluoroalkyl acids, mycotoxins (zearalenone, patulin, trichothecenes), and heat-generated compounds (acrylamide and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). Consumption data of 2002 pregnant women aged 18 to 45 from the EDEN cohort study were combined with contamination data from the second French total diet study to assess the exposure before pregnancy (n=1861) and during the third trimester of pregnancy (n=1775). Exposure was also assessed considering the season during which the third trimester of pregnancy occurred. Significant changes in consumptions during pregnancy and between seasons were associated with differences in exposures for some substances. Some contaminant exposures appeared to be of health concern. Margins of exposure to acrylamide (635 to 1094 for mean), inorganic arsenic, lead, and BDE-99 (≤100) were too low to exclude all risks. For NDL-PCBs, T-2 and HT-2 toxins, and deoxynivalenol, significant exceedings of toxicological reference values were found before pregnancy, but there was no significant exceeding in the third trimester.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Environmental Monitoring / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Food Contamination / analysis*
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons / analysis*
  • Maternal Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Metals, Heavy / analysis*
  • Pregnancy


  • Hydrocarbons
  • Metals, Heavy