Meconium and neurotoxicants: searching for a prenatal exposure timing


Ortega Garcia JA, Carrizo Gallardo D, Ferris i Tortajada J, Garcia MM, Grimalt JO. Meconium and neurotoxicants: searching for a prenatal exposure timing. Archives of Disease in Childhood 2006;91(8):642-646.


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 (alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-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 beta-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 beta-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.