TitleA prospective cohort study of in utero and early childhood arsenic exposure and infectious disease in 4- to 5-year-old Bangladeshi children
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsAhmed, SM, Branscum, AJ, Welch, BM, Megowan, M, Bethel, JW, Odden, MC, Joya, SAfroz, M. Ibn Hasan, OSharif, Lin, P-I, Mostofa, G, Quamruzzaman, Q, Rahman, M, Christiani, DC, Kile, ML
JournalEnvironmental Epidemiology
Date Published04/2020


Previous research found that infants who were exposed to high levels of arsenic in utero had an increased risk of infectious disease in the first year of life. This prospective study examined the association between arsenic exposures during gestation, and respiratory, diarrheal, and febrile morbidity in children 4–5 years of age.


A cohort of pregnant women was recruited in 2008–2011 in Bangladesh. Their children (N = 989) were followed, and household drinking water samples were collected during pregnancy, toddlerhood (12–40 months of age), and childhood (4–5 years of age). We actively surveyed mothers every 2 weeks regarding their children’s infectious diseases symptoms from 4 to 5 years of age. Poisson regression models were used to estimate the association between arsenic exposure and respiratory and febrile illness.


Median drinking water arsenic was 4.6, 8.8, and 4.2 µg/L in pregnancy, toddlerhood, and childhood, respectively. We observed 0.01, 1.2, and 1.0 cases per 100 person-days of diarrhea, respiratory, and febrile illness, respectively. The incident rate ratios (IRRs) for each doubling of drinking water arsenic during pregnancy were 1.10 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.00, 1.22) and 0.93 (95% CI = 0.82, 1.05) for respiratory and febrile illness, respectively, after adjusting for covariates. The association between arsenic exposure measured during toddlerhood and childhood was attenuated and not significantly associated with either outcome. Diarrheal disease was too infrequent to assess.


Drinking water arsenic exposure during pregnancy was associated with a higher risk of acute respiratory infections in children 4–5 years old in Bangladesh.

Short TitleEnvironmental Epidemiology