Associations between area-level arsenic exposure and adverse birth outcomes: An Echo-wide cohort analysis

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Environmental research


BACKGROUND: Drinking water is a common source of exposure to inorganic arsenic. In the US, the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was enacted to protect consumers from exposure to contaminants, including arsenic, in public water systems (PWS). The reproductive effects of preconception and prenatal arsenic exposure in regions with low to moderate arsenic concentrations are not well understood.

OBJECTIVES: This study examined associations between preconception and prenatal exposure to arsenic violations in water, measured via residence in a county with an arsenic violation in a regulated PWS during pregnancy, and five birth outcomes: birth weight, gestational age at birth, preterm birth, small for gestational age (SGA), and large for gestational age (LGA).

METHODS: Data for arsenic violations in PWS, defined as concentrations exceeding 10 parts per billion, were obtained from the Safe Drinking Water Information System. Participants of the Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes Cohort Study were matched to arsenic violations by time and location based on residential history data. Multivariable, mixed effects regression models were used to assess the relationship between preconception and prenatal exposure to arsenic violations in drinking water and birth outcomes.

RESULTS: Compared to unexposed infants, continuous exposure to arsenic from three months prior to conception through birth was associated with 88.8 g higher mean birth weight (95% CI: 8.2, 169.5), after adjusting for individual-level confounders. No statistically significant associations were observed between any preconception or prenatal violations exposure and gestational age at birth, preterm birth, SGA, or LGA.

CONCLUSIONS: Our study did not identify associations between preconception and prenatal arsenic exposure, defined by drinking water exceedances, and adverse birth outcomes. Exposure to arsenic violations in drinking water was associated with higher birth weight. Future studies would benefit from more precise geodata of water system service areas, direct household drinking water measurements, and exposure biomarkers.

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ePub ahead of print




Pt 2

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