A nested case–control study of prenatal vanadium exposure and low birthweight

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Abstract

STUDY QUESTION

Is prenatal vanadium exposure associated with adverse birth outcomes?

SUMMARY ANSWER

The odds of low birthweight (LBW) are increased 2.23-fold in mothers with a urinary vanadium of ≥2.91 μg/g creatinine compared with that in mothers with a urinary vanadium of ≤1.42 μg/g creatinine.

WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY

Human exposure to vanadium occurs through intake of food, water and polluted air. Vanadium has been suggested to have fetotoxicity and developmental toxicity in animal studies, and epidemiological studies have reported an association between a decrease in birthweight and vanadium exposure estimated from particulate matter.

STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION

A nested case–control study involving 816 study participants (204 LBW cases and 612 matched controls) was conducted with data from the prospective Healthy Baby Cohort between 2012 and 2014 in the province of Hubei, China.

PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS

Vanadium concentrations in 816 maternal urine samples collected before delivery [the median gestational age was 39 weeks (range 27–42 weeks)] were measured by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Information on the infants' birth outcomes was obtained from medical records. Conditional logistic regression was used to calculate the odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).

MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE

The median urinary vanadium concentration of the cases was much higher than that of the controls (3.04 μg/g creatinine versus 1.93 μg/g creatinine). The results revealed a significant positive trend between the odds of LBW and level of maternal urinary vanadium [relative to the lowest tertile; adjusted OR = 1.69 (95% CI: 0.92, 3.10) for the medium tertile; adjusted OR = 2.23 (95% CI: 1.23, 4.05) for the highest tertile; P-trend = 0.02]. Additionally, the association was not modified by maternal age (P for heterogeneity = 0.70) or infant gender (P for heterogeneity = 0.21).

LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION

The maternal urine sample was collected before labor, and the maternal urinary vanadium levels measured at one point in time may not accurately reflect the vanadium burden during the entire pregnancy.

WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS

The results of this study can enrich the biological monitoring data on urinary vanadium in pregnant women; and may be evidence that vanadium may affect fetal development.

STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S)

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (21437002, 81372959 and 81402649), the R&D Special Fund for Public Welfare Industry (Environment) (201309048) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, HUST (2016YXZD043). The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

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