Anthroposophic lifestyle influences the concentration of metals in placenta and cord blood

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Abstract

Allergic diseases develop in genetically susceptible individuals in a complex interplay with the environment, usually early in life. We have previously shown that the anthroposophic lifestyle is associated with reduced risk of allergic disease in children, but details on the influencing environmental factors are largely unknown. This study aims to elucidate if anthroposophic lifestyle influences fetal exposure to selected toxic and essential elements. Randomly selected non-smoking mothers with (n=40) and without (n=40) anthroposophic lifestyle from the prospective birth cohort ALADDIN were included. Concentrations of 12 toxic and essential elements were analyzed in full term placentas and in the erythrocyte fractions of maternal peripheral blood and of umbilical cord blood, using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Cadmium concentrations in maternal blood and placenta were significantly higher in mothers with an anthroposophic lifestyle (p<0.001), while concentrations in cord blood were generally low, irrespective of lifestyle. Cobalt concentrations were higher in both maternal blood, placenta and cord blood in the anthroposophic group. Lead concentrations were higher in maternal blood and cord blood, but not placenta, of mothers with anthroposophic lifestyle. Analysis of covariance, including lifestyle, parity, maternal age, gestational age, vegetarian diet, use of herbal medicine and occupation in the model, showed that mainly the anthroposophic lifestyle was significantly associated with cadmium concentrations. In conclusion, women with an anthroposophic lifestyle had higher concentrations of cadmium, cobalt and lead concentrations. Cadmium concentrations might have been influenced by a diet rich in vegetables and/or low iron status of the mothers.

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