Background: Exposure to organochlorine compounds (OCs) has been a subject of interest in recent years, given their potential neurotoxicity. Meconium is easily available and accumulates neurotoxicants and/or metabolites from the 12th week of gestation.
Aims: To determine whether neurotoxicants, specifically OCs, could be detected in serially collected meconium, and to compare the results with those obtained in cord blood samples.
Methods: A sample of cord blood and three serial stool samples were analysed in 10 newborns. Pentachlorobenzene (PeCB), hexachlorobenzene (HCB), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dichlorodiphenyl trichloroethane (p,p′-DDT) and its metabolite dichlorodiphenyl dichloroethylene (p,p′-DDE), and hexachlorocyclohexane isomers (α-, β-, γ-, and δ-HCH) were analysed by gas chromatography.
Results: From serial stool collection and analysis in newborns, there was an increase in the concentrations of HCB, p,p′-DDE, PCBs, and β-HCH between the first and last stools of the newborn. Levels of DDT diminished as pregnancy progressed. Concentrations in cord blood were positively associated with concentrations in meconium for p,p′-DDE and β-HCH.
Conclusions: Meconium is a very useful instrument for the investigation of fetal exposure to neurotoxicants; serial collection and analysis of meconium should estimate the timing and degree of in utero exposure of the fetus to neurotoxicants. Analysis and interpretation of neurotoxicants in meconium results is a complex process. Measurement in meconium of a wide range of neurotoxic substances should facilitate early identification of harmful exposures, and enable rehabilitation and instigation of preventive measures.
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- α-, β-, γ-, δ-HCH, hexachlorocyclohexane isomers
- HCB, hexachlorobenzene
- OC, organochlorine compound
- PCB, polychlorinated biphenyl
- PeCB, pentachlorobenzene
- p,p′-DDE, dichlorodiphenyl dichloroethylene
- p,p′-DDT, dichlorodiphenyl trichloroethane
- TBB, tetrabromobenzene
- TOC, total organic carbon
Published Online First 19 April 2006
Funding: this study was funded by grants from the Spanish Ministry of Health (PI041931) and the Environmental and Occupational Health Program of Mount Sinai Medical Center supported by the Fogarty International Center (NIH TW00640)
Competing interests: none declared
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