Background: Tobacco-smoke, airborne, and dietary exposures to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) have been associated with reduced prenatal growth. Evidence from biomarker-based studies of low-exposed populations is limited. Bulky DNA adducts in cord blood reflect the prenatal effective dose to several genotoxic agents including PAHs.
Objectives: We estimated the association between bulky DNA adduct levels and birth weight in a multicenter study and examined modification of this association by maternal intake of fruits and vegetables during pregnancy.
Methods: Pregnant women from Denmark, England, Greece, Norway, and Spain were recruited in 2006-2010. Adduct levels were measured by the 32P-postlabeling technique in white blood cells from 229 mothers and 612 newborns. Maternal diet was examined through questionnaires.
Results: Adduct levels in maternal and cord blood samples were similar and positively correlated (median, 12.1 vs. 11.4 adducts in 108 nucleotides; Spearman rank correlation coefficient = 0.66, p < 0.001). Cord blood adduct levels were negatively associated with birth weight, with an estimated difference in mean birth weight of -129 g (95% CI: -233, -25 g) for infants in the highest versus lowest tertile of adducts. The negative association with birth weight was limited to births in Norway, Denmark, and England, the countries with the lowest adduct levels, and was more pronounced in births to mothers with low intake of fruits and vegetables (-248 g; 95% CI: -405, -92 g) compared with those with high intake (-58 g; 95% CI: -206, 90 g).
Conclusions: Maternal exposure to genotoxic agents that induce the formation of bulky DNA adducts may affect intrauterine growth. Maternal fruit and vegetable consumption may be protective.