Association between maternal urinary arsenic species and infant cord blood leptin levels in a New Hampshire Pregnancy Cohort

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Leptin is an important pleiotropic hormone involved in the regulation of nutrient intake and energy expenditure, and is known to influence body weight in infants and adults. High maternal levels of arsenic have been associated with reduced infant birth weight, but the mechanism of action is not yet understood. This study aimed to investigate the association between in utero arsenic exposure and infant cord blood leptin concentrations within 156 mother–infant pairs from the New Hampshire Birth Cohort Study (NHBCS) who were exposed to low to moderate levels of arsenic through well water and diet. In utero arsenic exposure was obtained from maternal second trimester urinary arsenic concentration, and plasma leptin levels were assessed through immunoassay. Results indicate that urinary arsenic species concentrations were predictive of infant cord blood leptin levels following adjustment for creatinine, infant birth weight for gestational age percentile, infant sex, maternal pregnancy-related weight gain, and maternal education level amongst 149 white mother–infant pairs in multivariate linear regression models. A doubling or 100% increase in total urinary arsenic concentration (iAs+MMA+DMA) was associated with a 10.3% (95% CI: 0.8–20.7%) increase in cord blood leptin levels. A 100% increase in either monomethylarsonic acid (MMA) or dimethylarsinic acid (DMA) was also associated with an 8.3% (95% CI: −1.0–18.6%) and 10.3% (95% CI: 1.2–20.2%) increase in cord blood leptin levels, respectively. The association between inorganic arsenic (iAs) and cord blood leptin was of similar magnitude and direction as other arsenic species (a 100% increase in iAs was associated with a 6.5% (95% CI: −3.4–17.5%) increase in cord blood leptin levels), albeit not significant. These results suggest in utero exposure to low levels of arsenic influences cord blood leptin concentration and presents a potential mechanism by which arsenic may impact early childhood growth.

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