Pregnancy and Newborns Exposure Study: Measuring Mercury and Lead in Newborns

The Pregnancy and Newborns Exposure Study, a collaboration between MN Biomonitoring: Chemicals in People and the University of Minnesota, measured mercury, lead, and cadmium in newborns. With the consent of pregnant women enrolled in the larger University of Minnesota study, The Infant Development and Exposure Study (TIDES), cord blood and newborn bloodspots were collected from 48 newborns in the Minneapolis area.

The study tested newborn bloodspots against cord blood from the same babies to verify bloodspots as a reliable measurement of mercury in newborns.

  • Umbilical Cord Samples:
    Most studies of chemical exposure in newborns have used umbilical cord blood. While umbilical cord blood samples allow a laboratory to identify and measure different forms of mercury for likely sources of exposure, collecting cord blood for biomonitoring can be costly, and is not a routine procedure.
  • Newborn Bloodspots:
    Newborn bloodspots, small amounts of blood collected from an infant’s heel soon after birth, are routinely collected for state newborn screening programs. The bloodspots are tested for treatable health conditions not evident at birth. If new mothers consent to additional testing, in accordance with state law, the spots provide a low-cost way to do state biomonitoring. However, laboratory methods for measuring chemicals like mercury in newborn bloodspots are new; only a few states have tried to measure them.

Results Available Soon
The MDH Public Health Laboratory has tested the newborn bloodspots for mercury and the cord blood samples for mercury, lead, and cadmium. We will post results in the spring of 2015. Results will compare mercury levels in the paired newborn bloodspot and cord blood samples, and will describe exposure to mercury, lead, and cadmium in this group of Minnesota newborns. These findings are important in working with our Advisory Panel to decide on the preferred methods for future biomonitoring of newborns. This information will also help other states looking for methods to monitor exposure in newborns.

For questions or more information, contact Minnesota Biomonitoring: Chemicals in people.

Monday, February 02, 2015 at 10:11AM