Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Arsenic and Infectious Disease: A Potential Factor in Morbidity among Bangladeshi Children

Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Arsenic and Infectious Disease: A Potential Factor in Morbidity among Bangladeshi Children

Article excerpt

Lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI) and diarrhea are two of the most common causes of morbidity and mortality in children under 5 years old, especially in low-income countries. A new prospective cohort study of the link between these types of infections and arsenic exposure revealed a dose-dependent increase in LRTI and diarrhea in relation to maternal arsenic exposure [EHP 119(5):719-724; Rahman et al.].

Earlier studies linked prenatal arsenic exposure to increased risk of infant mortality, and infectious disease has been suggested as a potential underlying cause in these deaths. No epidemiologic studies have been conducted to support that explanation, but there is evidence from a few animal and human studies that arsenic may cause immunosuppression.

The current study included 1,552 live-born infants of women enrolled during 2002-2004 in Matlab, Bangladesh. Arsenic exposure was assessed by measuring inorganic arsenic in maternal urine samples collected at gestational weeks 8 and 30. After birth, information on symptoms of LRTI and diarrhea in infants was collected at monthly home visits in which mothers recalled symptoms that had occurred over the previous 7 days.

The estimated relative risk of LRTI and severe LRTI increased by 69% and 54%, respectively, in the participants whose mothers had urinary arsenic concentrations in the highest quintile (262-977 ug/L), compared with offspring of mothers whose exposure was in the lowest quintile (less than 39 ug/L). …

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