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Are concentrations of alkaline earth elements in maternal hair associated with risk of neural tube defects?

Li, Zhenjiang, Wang, Bin, Huo, Wenhua, Liu, Yingying, Zhu, Yibing, Xie, Jing, Li, Zhiwen, Ren, Aiguo
The Science of the total environment 2017 v.609 pp. 694-700
barium, calcium, correlation, dose response, eating habits, fish, infants, magnesium, meat, mothers, odds ratio, pregnancy, progeny, protective effect, questionnaires, raw fruit, risk, spina bifida, strontium, vegetables, women
The relationship between maternal intake of alkaline earth elements (AEEs) during the period of neural tube closure and the risk of neural tube defects (NTDs) is still unclear. We propose that AEE deficiency during the early period of pregnancy is associated with an elevated risk of NTDs in the offspring. In this study, we recruited 191 women with NTD-affected pregnancies (cases) and 261 women who delivered healthy infants (controls). The concentrations of four AEEs (Ca, Mg, Sr, Ba) in maternal hair sections that grew during early pregnancy were analyzed. Information on the dietary habits of the mothers was also collected by questionnaire. Higher concentrations of the four AEEs in hair had protective effects against the risk of total NTDs, with odds ratios with 95% confidence interval (comparing groups separated by each median level) of 0.44 (0.28–0.68) for Mg, 0.56 (0.36–0.87) for Ca, 0.45 (0.28–0.70) for Sr, and 0.41 (0.26–0.65) for Ba. Significant negative dose-response trends were identified for the relationships between the four AEE concentrations in maternal hair and the risks of anencephaly and spina bifida, but not for encephalocele. The frequencies of maternal consumption of fresh green vegetables, fresh fruit, and meat or fish were positively correlated with the concentrations of AEEs in hair. We concluded that the maternal intake of AEEs may play an important role in preventing NTD formation in offspring, and that this intake is related to maternal dietary habits of consuming fresh green vegetables, fresh fruit, and fish or meat.