Assessment of exposure to trace metals in a cohort of pregnant women from an urban center by urine analysis in the first and third trimesters of pregnancy.
Prenatal exposure to trace metals, whether they are essential, non-essential, or toxic, must be assessed for their potential health effects in the offspring. Herein is reported an approach to this end which involved collection of urine samples during the first and third trimesters of pregnancy from 489 mothers from Sabadell (Catalonia, Spain), a highly industrialized town. These samples were analyzed for cobalt (Co), nickel (Ni), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), selenium (Se), arsenic (As), molybdenum (Mo), cadmium (Cd), antimonium (Sb), cesium (Cs), thallium (Tl), and lead (Pb). An acid digestion method was developed and validated for inductively coupled plasma quadruple mass spectrometry (Q-ICP-MS) analysis of these 12 metals. The median concentrations of metals ranged from 0.13 to 290 ?g/g creatinine, the highest levels were found for Zn and the lowest for Th. The mean concentrations of most metals except As, Ni, Th, and Pb showed statistically significant differences between both trimesters. The concentrations of Mo, Se, Cd, Cs, and Sb were higher in the first than in the third trimester, whereas the opposite was found for Co, Cu, and Zn. The concentrations of all metals in both sampling periods showed statistically significant correlations (p<0.01 for Mo and Cu, p<0.001 for the others). The significant correlations of metal urine concentrations in the first and third trimesters of pregnancy suggest that the observed differences between both periods are related to physiological changes. Accordingly, the measured urine concentrations during either the first or third trimesters can be used as estimates of exposure during pregnancy and can serve as markers for prenatal intake of these metals in the studied cohort.