Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Association between Prenatal Lead Exposure and Blood Pressure in Female Offspring

Association between Prenatal Lead Exposure and Blood Pressure in Female Offspring

Background: Lead exposure in adults is associated with hypertension. Altered prenatal nutrition is associated with subsequent risks of adult hypertension, but little is known about whether prenatal exposure to toxicants, such as lead, may also confer such risks.

Objectives: We investigated the relationship of prenatal lead exposure and blood pressure (BP) in 7-15 year old boys and girls.

Methods: We evaluated 457 mother-child pairs, originally recruited for an environmental birth cohort study between 1994 and 2003 in Mexico City, at a follow-up visit in 2008-2010. Prenatal lead exposure was assessed by measurement of maternal tibia and patella lead using in vivo K-x-ray fluorescence and cord blood lead using atomic absorption spectrometry. BP was measured by mercury sphygmomanometer with appropriate-size cuffs.

Results: Adjusting for relevant covariates, maternal tibia lead was significantly associated with increases in systolic BP (SBP) and diastolic BP (DBP) in girls, but not in boys (p-interaction with sex = 0.025 and 0.007 for SBP and DBP, respectively). Among girls, an interquartile range increase in tibia lead (13 μg/g) was associated with 2.11 (95% CI: 0.69-3.52) mm Hg and 1.60 (95% CI: 0.28-2.91) mm Hg increases in SBP and DBP, respectively. Neither patella nor cord lead was associated with offspring BP.

Conclusions: Maternal tibia lead, which reflects cumulative environmental lead exposure and a source of exposure to the fetus, is a predisposing factor to higher BP in female, but not male, offspring. Sex-specific adaptive responses to lead toxicity during early life development may explain these differences.

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