Scrolling Headlines:

UMass women’s soccer falls to Central Connecticut 3-0 in home opener -

August 19, 2017

Preseason serves as opportunity for young UMass men’s soccer players -

August 13, 2017

Amherst Fire Department website adds user friendly components and live audio feed -

August 11, 2017

UMass takes the cake for best campus dining -

August 11, 2017

Two UMass students overcome obstacles to win full-ride scholarships -

August 2, 2017

The guilt of saying ‘guilty’ -

August 2, 2017

UMass tuition set to rise 3-4 percent for 2017-2018 school year -

July 18, 2017

PVTA potential cuts affect UMass and five college students -

July 10, 2017

New director of student broadcast media at UMass this fall -

July 10, 2017

Whose American Dream? -

June 24, 2017

Man who threatened to bomb Coolidge Hall taken into ICE custody -

June 24, 2017

Cale Makar drafted by Colorado Avalanche in first round of 2017 NHL Entry Draft -

June 24, 2017

Conservatives: The Trump experiment is over -

June 17, 2017

UMass basketball lands transfer Kieran Hayward from LSU -

May 18, 2017

UMass basketball’s Donte Clark transferring to Coastal Carolina -

May 17, 2017

Report: Keon Clergeot transfers to UMass basketball program -

May 15, 2017

Despite title-game loss, Meg Colleran’s brilliance in circle was an incredible feat -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball loses in heartbreaker in A-10 title game -

May 14, 2017

Navy sinks UMass women’s lacrosse 23-11 in NCAA tournament second round, ending Minutewomen’s season -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball advances to A-10 Championship game -

May 13, 2017

Dean of Public Health investigates whether arsenic in the womb leads to mental impairment

Marjorie Aelion, dean of the School of Public Health and Health Sciences at the University of Massachusetts, and colleagues at the Medical University of South Carolina recently conducted a study attempting to find possible connections between exposure to heavy arsenic levels in pregnant women and developmental delays in their children.

The study, published in the Jan. 8 edition of International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, suggests there is a significant relationship between soil levels of arsenic and cases of mental retardation and developmental delay.

According to the study, the cause remains unknown for 50 percent of individuals suffering from mental handicaps, and the causes that are known are not well understood. The study hypothesizes that the prevalence of heavy metals such as arsenic in soil may contribute to a greater percentage of cases than previously assumed.

The researchers used an inexpensive statistical approach to gather information. Instead of using blood and urine samples from subjects, the researchers used data from medical records to gather the study’s population, excluding children with identified genetic causes of developmental disorders.

Aelion explained some of the benefits of this type of statistical approach.

“[This type of study] allows us to narrow down the number of metals we measure by indicating which ones are important,” she said. “It allows us to focus geographically and do a follow-up study in geographic areas that had the most interesting results,” she continued.

The study, conducted in South Carolina, focused on the areas where mothers of children with developmental delays resided during pregnancy.

Aelion commented on the dangers of exposure during pregnancy.

“Heavy metals can affect the mind of a developing child because heavy metals can cross the placenta of a pregnant woman and can cross the blood-brain barrier in the fetus,” said Aelion.

According to Aelion, there are multiple sources of arsenic which could contribute to concentrations of the chemical in soil.

“Arsenic can occur naturally and can occur as a byproduct of industrial activities,” she said. “There are very few studies that measure arsenic in residential soils, and we do not know if it could be associated with negative health outcomes in children,” she added, indicating a need for more research in this area.

Although Aelion emphasized that there is much still unknown about the affects of how arsenic and other chemicals can impact the development of children both while in the womb and after birth, there are some steps parents can take to protect their children once they are born to avoid exposure.

“Arsenic can be in groundwater that is consumed by people who rely on private wells for their drinking water,” said Aelion. “Some soils have high arsenic naturally; limiting children’s play in dirt and keeping a clean house if dirt is tracked into the house is helpful,” she went on. “Some children’s playground equipment made of wood was treated with arsenic-containing compounds in the past.”

Despite these cautions, Aelion maintains that low exposures to arsenic after birth are unlikely to cause severe mental impairment or developmental delay.

 The article Aelion published was co-authored by Yuan Liu, a biostatistics doctoral student in the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Department in the School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina at the time of publication. Dr. Suzanne McDermott, a professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, who is an epidemiologist, and Dr. Andrew Lawson, a professor in the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Department at the School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina, also contributed to the research.

Bobby Hitt can be reached at rhitt@student.umass.edu.

Comments
One Response to “Dean of Public Health investigates whether arsenic in the womb leads to mental impairment”
  1. very good, thank youu

Leave A Comment