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Arch Dis Child 91:642-646 doi:10.1136/adc.2005.084129
  • Original article

Meconium and neurotoxicants: searching for a prenatal exposure timing

  1. J A Ortega García1,
  2. D Carrizo Gallardo2,
  3. J Ferris i Tortajada3,
  4. M M P García3,
  5. J O Grimalt2
  1. 1Pediatric Environmental Health Speciality Unit (PEHSU), University Children’s Hospital “Virgen de la Arrixaca”, Murcia, Spain
  2. 2Department of Environmental Chemistry, Institute of Chemical and Environmental Research, Barcelona, Spain
  3. 3Pediatric Environmental Health Speciality Unit, University Children’s Hospital “La Fe”, Valencia, Spain
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr J A Ortega García
    Pediatric Environmental Health Speciality Unit (PEHSU) Murcia, University Children’s Hospital “Virgen de la Arrixaca”, Ctra. Murcia-Cartagena, El Palmar, CP-30120, Murcia, Spain; ortega{at}pehsu.org; www.pehsu.org
  • Accepted 10 April 2006
  • Published Online First 19 April 2006

Abstract

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.

Footnotes

  • 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