Skip Navigation
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Your Environment. Your Health.

Publication Detail

Title: Infant toenails as a biomarker of in utero arsenic exposure.

Authors: Davis, Matthew A; Li, Zhigang; Gilbert-Diamond, Diane; Mackenzie, Todd A; Cottingham, Kathryn L; Jackson, Brian P; Lee, Joyce S; Baker, Emily R; Marsit, Carmen J; Karagas, Margaret R

Published In J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol, (2014 Sep-Oct)

Abstract: A growing body of evidence suggests that in utero and early-life exposure to arsenic may have detrimental effects on children, even at the low to moderate levels common in the United States and elsewhere. In a sample of 170 mother-infant pairs from New Hampshire, we determined infant exposure to in utero arsenic by evaluating infant toenails as a biomarker using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Infant toenail arsenic concentration correlated with maternal postpartum toenail concentrations (Spearman's correlation coefficient 0.34). In adjusted linear models, a doubling of maternal toenail arsenic concentration was associated with a 53.8% increase in infant toenail arsenic concentration as compared with 20.4% for a doubling of maternal urine arsenic concentration. In a structural equation model, a doubling of the latent variable integrating maternal toenail and urine arsenic concentrations was associated with a 67.5% increase in infant toenail arsenic concentration. A similar correlation between infant and maternal postpartum toenail concentrations was observed in a validation cohort of 130 mother-infant pairs from Rhode Island. In utero exposure to arsenic occurs through maternal water and dietary sources, and infant toenails appear to be a reliable biomarker for estimating arsenic exposure during the critical window of gestation.

PubMed ID: 24896769 Exiting the NIEHS site

MeSH Terms: Arsenic/toxicity*; Biomarkers/analysis*; Female; Fetus/drug effects*; Humans; Infant; Male; Mass Spectrometry; Maternal Exposure*; Nails/chemistry*; Pregnancy

to Top