The Pregnancy Exposome: Multiple Environmental Exposures in the INMA-Sabadell Birth Cohort

Environ Sci Technol. 2015 Sep 1;49(17):10632-41. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.5b01782. Epub 2015 Aug 21.


The "exposome" is defined as "the totality of human environmental exposures from conception onward, complementing the genome" and its holistic approach may advance understanding of disease etiology. We aimed to describe the correlation structure of the exposome during pregnancy to better understand the relationships between and within families of exposure and to develop analytical tools appropriate to exposome data. Estimates on 81 environmental exposures of current health concern were obtained for 728 women enrolled in The INMA (INfancia y Medio Ambiente) birth cohort, in Sabadell, Spain, using biomonitoring, geospatial modeling, remote sensors, and questionnaires. Pair-wise Pearson's and polychoric correlations were calculated and principal components were derived. The median absolute correlation across all exposures was 0.06 (5th-95th centiles, 0.01-0.54). There were strong levels of correlation within families of exposure (median = 0.45, 5th-95th centiles, 0.07-0.85). Nine exposures (11%) had a correlation higher than 0.5 with at least one exposure outside their exposure family. Effectively all the variance in the data set (99.5%) was explained by 40 principal components. Future exposome studies should interpret exposure effects in light of their correlations to other exposures. The weak to moderate correlation observed between exposure families will permit adjustment for confounding in future exposome studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Spain