Maternal copper status and neuropsychological development in infants and preschool children

Ruben Amoros Salvador, Mario Murcia, Llúcia González, Raquel Soler-Blasco, Marisa Rebagliato, Carmen Iñiguez, Paula Carrasco, Jesus Vioque, Karin Broberg, Michael Levi, Maria-jose Lopez-espinosa, Ferran Ballester, Sabrina Llop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Introduction: Copper (Cu) is an essential element involved in biological processes; however, excessive Cu could be harmful because of its reactive nature. Very few studies have evaluated its potential neurotoxic effects. We aimed to evaluate the association between maternal Cu levels and children's neuropsychological development.

Methods: Study subjects were mother-child pairs from the Spanish INMA (i.e. Childhood and Environment) Project. Cu was measured by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry in serum samples taken at the first trimester of pregnancy (2003-2005). Neuropsychological development was assessed using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development (BSID) at 12 months (n = 651) and the McCarthy Scales of Children's Abilities (MSCA) at 5 years of age (n = 490). Covariates were obtained by questionnaires during pregnancy and childhood. Multivariate linear and non-linear models were built in order to study the association between maternal Cu and child neuropsychological development.
Results: The mean ± standard deviation of maternal Cu concentrations was 1606 ± 272 μg/L. In the multivariate analysis, a negative linear association was found between maternal Cu concentrations and both the BSID mental scale (beta = −0.051; 95% confidence intervals [CI]: −0.102, −0.001) and the MSCA verbal scale (beta = −0.044; 95%CI:-0.094, 0.006). Boys obtained poorer scores than girls, with increasing Cu at 12 months (interaction p-value = 0.040 for the mental scale and 0.074 for the psychomotor scale). This effect modification disappeared at 5 years of age. The association between Cu and the MSCA scores (verbal, perceptive performance, global memory and motor, general cognitive,
and executive function scales) was negative for those children with lowest maternal iron concentrations (< 938μg/L).
Conclusion: The Cu concentrations observed in our study were within the reference range established for healthy pregnant women in previous studies. The results of this study contribute to the body of scientific knowledge with important information on the possible neurotoxic capability of Cu during pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503-512
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health
Issue number3
Early online date1 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2019


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