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J Dev Orig Health Dis. 2014 Aug;5(4):281-7. doi: 10.1017/S2040174414000233.

Association of selenium and copper with lipids in umbilical cord blood.

Author information

1School of Health Sciences,Purdue University,West Lafayette,IN,USA.
2Department of Environmental Health Sciences,Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health,Baltimore,MD,USA.
4Office of Policy,Center for Tobacco Products,Food and Drug Administration,Rockville,MD,USA.
5Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health,Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health,New York,NY,USA.
6National Center for Environmental Health,Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,Division of Laboratory Sciences,Atlanta,GA,USA.
7National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism,National Institutes of Health,Rockville,MD,USA.
9Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics,Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine,Baltimore,MD,USA.
10George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services,Washington,DC,USA.


Altered levels of selenium and copper have been linked with altered cardiovascular disease risk factors including changes in blood triglyceride and cholesterol levels. However, it is unclear whether this can be observed prenatally. This cross-sectional study includes 274 singleton births from 2004 to 2005 in Baltimore, Maryland. We measured umbilical cord serum selenium and copper using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. We evaluated exposure levels vis-à-vis umbilical cord serum triglyceride and total cholesterol concentrations in multivariable regression models adjusted for gestational age, birth weight, maternal age, race, parity, smoking, prepregnancy body mass index, n-3 fatty acids and methyl mercury. The percent difference in triglycerides comparing those in the highest v. lowest quartile of selenium was 22.3% (95% confidence interval (CI): 7.1, 39.7). For copper this was 43.8% (95% CI: 25.9, 64.3). In multivariable models including both copper and selenium as covariates, copper, but not selenium, maintained a statistically significant association with increased triglycerides (percent difference: 40.7%, 95% CI: 22.1, 62.1). There was limited evidence of a relationship of increasing selenium with increasing total cholesterol. Our findings provide evidence that higher serum copper levels are associated with higher serum triglycerides in newborns, but should be confirmed in larger studies.

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