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Silicone Wristbands Capture Chemical Exposures in Early Pregnancy

Pregnant women are exposed to chemicals that may pose risks to their health or their babies’ health. However, the types of chemicals and the patterns of exposure are not well known. Therefore, ECHO researchers and Opportunities & Infrastructure Fund (OIF) investigators Brett Doherty, PhD, MSPH, and Megan Romano, PhD, MPH of Dartmouth College used silicone wristbands to collect data on chemical exposures during pregnancy. Their research, titled “Assessment of Multipollutant Exposures During Pregnancy Using Silicone Wristbands” is published in Frontiers in Public Health.

During this study, 255 women from the New Hampshire Birth Cohort Study (NHBCS) wore silicone wristbands for one week during early pregnancy. The women went about their normal activities while chemicals in their environment became trapped in the wristbands. At the end of the week, the participants returned the wristbands and the research team measured the captured chemicals.
The study found 199 unique chemicals in the wristbands worn by women in the study. A group of 16 chemicals, including chemicals in personal care products and consumer goods, was identified most often. Most women had relatively low amounts of these chemicals in their wristbands, but others had more unique combinations of chemical exposures. Education and behaviors, such as nail polish use, were predictive of the chemical exposures.

“We identified common exposures and exposure patterns in our study population, which may be studied in future research,” said Romano. The team will compare the wristband measurements to traditional measurements of chemical exposures to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of this new technology.
Additionally, the research team plans to link the chemical exposure data from the silicone wristbands to maternal and infant health outcomes and other biological data. “This linkage may indicate how chemicals influence human health and provide clues to prevent adverse health outcomes,” said Doherty.