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Chemical exposures assessed via silicone wristbands and endogenous plasma metabolomics during pregnancy



Metabolomics is a promising method to investigate physiological effects of chemical exposures during pregnancy, with the potential to clarify toxicological mechanisms, suggest sensitive endpoints, and identify novel biomarkers of exposures.


Investigate the influence of chemical exposures on the maternal plasma metabolome during pregnancy.


Data were obtained from participants (n = 177) in the New Hampshire Birth Cohort Study, a prospective pregnancy cohort. Chemical exposures were assessed via silicone wristbands worn for one week at ~13 gestational weeks. Metabolomic features were assessed in plasma samples obtained at ~24–28 gestational weeks via the Biocrates AbsoluteIDQ® p180 kit and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. Associations between chemical exposures and plasma metabolomics were investigated using multivariate modeling.


Chemical exposures predicted 11 (of 226) and 23 (of 125) metabolomic features in Biocrates and NMR, respectively. The joint chemical exposures did not significantly predict pathway enrichment, though some individual chemicals were associated with certain amino acids and related metabolic pathways. For example, N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide was associated with the amino acids glycine, L-glutamic acid, L-asparagine, and L-aspartic acid and enrichment of the ammonia recycling pathway.


This study contributes evidence to the potential effects of chemical exposures during pregnancy upon the endogenous maternal plasma metabolome.

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The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. We wish to thank our ECHO colleagues, the medical, nursing and program staff, as well as the children and families participating in the ECHO cohorts. We acknowledge the contribution of the following ECHO program collaborators: ECHO Coordinating Center: Duke Clinical Research Institute, Durham, North Carolina: Benjamin DK, Smith PB, Newby KL (see Appendix for full listing). We would also like to acknowledge and thank the following: Richard Scott, Clarisa Caballero-Ignacio, Michael Barton, Jessica Scotten, Holly Dixon, Kaci Graber, Caoilinn Haggerty, Michelle Schreiner, and Erika Dade.


This research was support by Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Center at Dartmouth via that National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS, P01 ES022832), Dartmouth Center for Molecular Epidemiology and Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) via National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS, P20 GM104416), the RTI Children’s Health Exposure Analysis Resource (CHEAR) Exposure Assessment Hub (NIEHS, U2CES026544, Fennell PI), and the National Library of Medicine (R01LM012723). Research reported in this publication was supported by the Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) program, Office of The Director, National Institutes of Health, under Award Numbers U2COD023375 (Coordinating Center), U24OD023382 (Data Analysis Center), and UH3 OD023275, and NIH NIEHS P42ES007373. BTD was supported by the Training Program for Quantitative Population Sciences in Cancer via the National Cancer Institute (NCI, R25 CA134286). KAA was supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS, P42 ES016465 and P30 ES030287).

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All authors contributed to the study design, laboratory or statistical analysis plan, and critically revised and reviewed the manuscript. BTD conducted the statistical analyses and drafted the initial manuscript under the supervision of MER and MRK. JCM, AGH, and MRK designed the metabolomics assessment strategy in collaboration with SJS and all provided critical feedback on early versions of the manuscript. SLM, WWP, DAS, and DAK performed the metabolomics laboratory work, assisted in cleaning, analyzing, and interpreting the metabolomics data, and drafted portions of the methods under the supervision of SJS. KAA assisted in interpreting data related to the silicone wristbands and revised portions of the methods to clarify the exposure assessment methods. JG and SLM refined the statistical analysis and assisted with interpretation of results. MER supervised all aspects of the study and drafted portions of the introduction and discussion.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Megan E. Romano.

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Competing interests

KA, an author of this research, discloses a financial interest in MyExposome, Inc., which is marketing products related to the research being reported. The terms of this arrangement have been reviewed and approved by OSU in accordance with its policy on research conflicts of interest.

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Doherty, B.T., McRitchie, S.L., Pathmasiri, W.W. et al. Chemical exposures assessed via silicone wristbands and endogenous plasma metabolomics during pregnancy. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol (2021).

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  • Exposome
  • Metabolome
  • Silicone wristband
  • Pregnancy
  • Exposure
  • Multipollutant


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