Pregnant women and infants are at risk for selenium deficiency, which is known to have negative effects on immune and brain function. We have investigated selenium levels in 158 healthy never-pregnant women and in 114 pregnant and lactating women and their infants at age 6 months and related this to clinical outcomes during the first 6 months of life. Neurodevelopment was assessed with the parental questionnaire Ages and Stages (ASQ) at 6 months. A maternal selenium level ≤0.90 µmol/L in pregnancy week 18 was negatively related to infant neurodevelopment at 6 months (B = -20, p = 0.01), whereas a selenium level ≤0.78 µmol/L in pregnancy week 36 was associated with an increased risk (odds ratio 4.8) of having an infant infection during the first 6 weeks of life. A low maternal selenium status in pregnancy was found to be associated with an increased risk of infant infection during the first 6 weeks of life and a lower psychomotor score at 6 months. We suggest a cutoff for maternal serum selenium deficiency of 0.90 µmol/L in pregnancy week 18 and 0.78 µmol/L in pregnancy week 36. This should be reevaluated in an intervention study.
Keywords: deficiency; infant; infection; lactation; neurodevelopment; pregnancy; selenium.