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Small Amounts of Arsenic in Water May Cause Spontaneous Miscarriage, Report UAlbany Scientists

Millions of women of reproductive age are exposed each year to low to moderate concentrations of arsenic in drinking water.

ALBANY, N.Y. (October 25, 2011) -- Worldwide, millions of women of reproductive age are exposed each year to low to moderate concentrations of arsenic in drinking water. Researchers led by University at Albany scientists will conduct a two-year pilot study on the correlation between low to moderate levels of inorganic arsenic (iAs) and spontaneous abortion of clinically-recognized pregnancies. The research led by Michael S. Bloom, assistant professor in the departments of Environmental Health Sciences and Epidemiology and Statistics at the UAlbany School of Public Health, is being supported by a $150,514 grant from National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).

Previous research supports a connection between increased incidences of spontaneous abortions in locations with high levels of inorganic arsenic. Limited human, animal, and in-vitro studies also suggest an increased risk for spontaneous pregnancy loss when associated with mild to moderate iAs concentrations in drinking water.

The western Romanian city of Timisoara, a region is known for mild to moderate iAs contamination of drinking water supplies due to natural processes, will be the site of the two-year project set to begin in late fall 2011. Prenatal care is compulsory and financed by the government in Romania, making the study site an ideal location for an inclusion population.

The case group, comprising women with spontaneous pregnancy losses of not more than 20 weeks completed gestation, will be matched to a control group of women with ongoing pregnancies of similar duration. Data will be collected from study participants concerning individual exposure to iAs contaminants through drinking water, both prenatal and gestational, and then reviewed by a medical team.

Collaborators on the project include Edward Fitzgerald, associate dean for research at the UAlbany School of Public Health, and Eugen S. Gurzau, M.D.; Iulia Neamtiu, M.D. and Ioana Lupsa, M.D. from the Environmental Health Center (EHC) in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, and the staff of Bega Hospital in Timisoara, Romania.

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