The Argentinian mother-and-child contaminant study: a cross-sectional study among delivering women in the cities of Ushuaia and Salta
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Several ongoing international multidisciplinary projects have examined linkages between environmental chemicals and health. In contrast to Arctic regions, information for the Southern Hemisphere is scarce. Because of the inherent practice of pesticide utilisation and mismanagement, food security is potentially threatened. The most vulnerable period in human life occurs during pregnancy and early childhood, thus a focus on the body burdens of PTS in pregnant or delivering women is warranted. The current study was designed to investigate health risks related to exposure to PTS and food security in two regions of Argentina (Ushuaia and Salta). Our aims were to quantify concentrations of organic and inorganic toxins in serum or whole blood of delivering women and to collect pertinent dietary and medical information. The overall study design, the basic demographic features and essential clinical chemistry findings are described in the current paper. The socioeconomic differences between the two study areas were evident. On average, the women in Ushuaia were 4 years older than those in Salta (28.8 vs. 24.7 years). Respectively, the proportion of current smokers was 4.5 vs. 9.6%; and Salta had a higher birth rate, with 15.6% being para four or more. Saltanean women reported longer breastfeeding periods. Caesarean sections were more frequent in Ushuaia, with 43% of Caesarean deliveries compared with only 6% in Salta. Employment was high in both communities. Recognised environmental pollution sources in the vicinity of participant dwellings were widespread in Salta (56.1%) compared to Ushuaia (9%). The use of pesticides for insect control in homes was most common in Salta (80%). There is an urgent need for a comprehensive assessment of exposures in areas of the Southern Hemisphere. Our data set and the planned publications of observed concentrations of inorganic and organic environmental contaminants in both mothers and their newborns will contribute to this objective.
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