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Environ Res. 2013 Feb;121:45-51. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2012.10.010. Epub 2012 Nov 16.

Association of cord blood levels of lead, arsenic, and zinc with neurodevelopmental indicators in newborns: a birth cohort study in Chitwan Valley, Nepal.

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Department of Social Medicine, National Research Institute for Child Health and Development, 2-10-1, Okura, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 157-8535, Japan.


In this study, we aimed to investigate the association between in utero toxic (lead [Pb] and arsenic [As]) and essential element (zinc [Zn]) levels and neurodevelopmental indicators after birth in Chitwan Valley, Nepal. We conducted a hospital-based birth cohort study with 100 pregnant women in Chitwan, Nepal. We measured Pb, As, and Zn concentrations in cord blood. We assessed 100 infants at 1 day after birth, using the Brazelton neonatal behavioral assessment scale, third edition (NBAS III). Multivariate regression was performed to adjust for mother's age, parity, educational level, and body mass index (BMI); family income; and newborn's birth weight, gestational age, and age in hours at the time of NBAS III assessment. Among the 7 clusters of NBAS III, the motor cluster score was inversely associated with the cord blood levels of Pb (coefficient=-2.15, at 95% confidence interval [CI]=-4.27 to -0.03). The cord blood levels of As were inversely associated with the state regulation cluster score (coefficient=-6.71, at 95% CI=-12.17 to -1.24). The cord blood levels of Zn were not associated with NBAS III scores. The cord blood levels of Pb and As, but not Zn, showed significant inverse association with the neurodevelopment of newborns. These results suggest that high levels of Pb or As exposure during the prenatal period may induce retardation during in utero neurodevelopment.

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