Arsenic exposure during pregnancy and postpartum maternal glucose tolerance: evidence from Bangladesh

Document Type


Publication Date



Pediatrics; Endocrinology

Journal Title

Environmental health : a global access science source

MeSH Headings

Arsenic (analysis); Bangladesh (epidemiology); Blood Glucose; Diabetes, Gestational (chemically induced, epidemiology); Female; Glucose; Humans; Postpartum Period; Pregnancy


BACKGROUND: Arsenic exposure has been associated with gestational diabetes mellitus. However, the extent to which arsenic exposure during pregnancy is associated with postpartum glucose intolerance is unknown. METHODS: We studied 323 women in Bangladesh. We assessed arsenic exposure in early pregnancy via toenail and water samples. We measured fasting glucose and insulin in serum at a mean (SD) of 4.0 (3.5) weeks post-delivery. We ran covariate-adjusted, linear regression models to examine associations of arsenic concentrations with HOMA-IR, a marker of insulin resistance, and HOMA-β, a marker of beta cell function. RESULTS: Median (IQR) arsenic concentration was 0.45 (0.67) μg/g in toenails and 2.0 (6.5) μg/L in drinking water. Arsenic concentrations during pregnancy were not associated with insulin resistance or beta cell function postpartum. HOMA-IR was 0.07% (- 3.13, 3.37) higher and HOMA-β was 0.96% (- 3.83, 1.99) lower per IQR increment in toenail arsenic, but effect estimates were small and confidence intervals crossed the null. CONCLUSIONS: Although arsenic exposure during pregnancy has been consistently associated with gestational diabetes mellitus, we found no clear evidence for an adverse effect on postpartum insulin resistance or beta cell function.

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