High hair selenium mother to fetus transfer after the Brazil nuts consumption

J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2016 Jan;33:110-3. doi: 10.1016/j.jtemb.2015.10.004. Epub 2015 Oct 28.


Lactating mother and her two month old healthy daughter (APGAR 10) gave their scalp hair for a multielement profile analysis; 25 elements were analyzed with the ICP MS. Mother's hair was divided into 5cm long segment proximal to the scull (Young), and the distal segment further up to the hair tip (Old). One centimeter of hair records one month of the metabolic activity of the bioelements in the body. Mother's Young hair and daughters hair have 2.70 and 9.74μgg(-1)Se, a distinctly higher Se concentrations than the Old hair of 0.87μgg(-1). The adequate hair Se concentrations in Croatia women population vary from 0.08 to 0.63μgg(-1); values below or above that range indicate deficiency or excess, respectively. Dietary recall revealed that during the last trimester of pregnancy and over a period of a week, the mother has consumed 135g of Brazil nuts (Bertholletia excelsa) (BN); BN is an exceptionally rich Se dietary source. The amount of Se in BN varies and one week consumption of 135g of BN may result in Se daily intake of 367 to 492μgg(-1)day(-1) over a period of seven consecutive days, and what is about or exceeds the Upper Limit of daily selenium intake of 400μg(-1)g(-1). The excessively high infant hair Se mirrored a natural high mother to fetus transplacental transfer of bio elements in the last trimester of pregnancy. The potential toxicological risks of such a high Se transfer remains to be elucidated.

Keywords: Brazil nuts; Fetus/infant; Hair Se; Lactation; Pregnancy; Transplacental Se transfer.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bertholletia / chemistry*
  • Female
  • Fetus / metabolism*
  • Hair / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Lactation
  • Mothers
  • Pregnancy
  • Selenium / metabolism*


  • Selenium