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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter April 15, 2021

Determination of organic pollutants in meconium and its relationship with fetal growth. Case control study in Northwestern Spain

Esther Álvarez-Silvares ORCID logo EMAIL logo , Paula Rubio-Cid , Xiana González-Gómez , Paula Domínguez-Vigo , Tania Fernández-Cruz , Teresa Seoane-Pillado and Elena Martínez-Carballo



Antenatal exposure to organic pollutants is a leading public health problem. Meconium is a unique matrix to perform prenatal studies because it enables us to retrospectively evaluate fetal exposure accumulated during the second and third trimester. The aim of the present study was to evaluate associations between organic pollutant levels in meconium and birth weight in NW Spain.


In this study, we quantify the concentrations of 50 organic pollutants together with the total values of the most important chemical groups in meconium using gas chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry.


Organochlorine pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls and polybrominated diphenyl ethers were detected with the highest levels in meconium from small for gestational age newborns. It was estimated that several congeners were statistically significant (p<0.05). However, organophosphorus pesticides attained higher concentrations in newborns with an appropriate weight.


The occurrence of transplacental transfer can be confirmed. Prenatal exposure to organic pollutants was associated with a decrease in birth weight and, therefore, organic pollutants could have an impact on fetal growth. Nevertheless, these results need validation in larger sample sized studies.

Corresponding author: Esther Álvarez-Silvares, Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department, Complexo Hospitalario Universitario de Ourense, Ourense 32005, Spain, E-mail:

  1. Research funding: None declared.

  2. Author contributions: Esther Álvarez-Silvares: Methodology, Supervision, Investigation, Formal analysis, Writing – review and editing. Tania Fernández-Cruz: Data curation, Methodology, Formal analysis. Paula Domínguez-Vigo and Paula Rubio Cid: Investigation, writing, review and editing. Elena Martínez-Carballo: Data curation, Supervision. Teresa Seoane Pillado: Formal analysis. All authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this manuscript and approved its submission.

  3. Competing interests: Authors state no conflict of interest.

  4. Informed consent: Informed consent was obtained from all individuals included in this study.

  5. Ethical approval: The study was approved by Pontevedra-Vigo-Ourense Research Ethics Committee with registry code 2014/410. The Declaration of Helsinki on biomedical research was applied at all times.

  6. Data availability: The datasets used and analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


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Supplementary Material

The online version of this article offers supplementary material (

Received: 2020-07-12
Accepted: 2021-03-14
Published Online: 2021-04-15
Published in Print: 2021-09-27

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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