Prenatal exposure to arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), mercury (Hg), and lead (Pb) may be nephrotoxic, yet limited studies have examined subclinical kidney injury biomarkers in children. We assessed whether metal exposure in the second trimester (2T), a crucial time of kidney development, is associated with altered urine kidney injury and function biomarkers in preadolescent children. Analyses included 494 children participating in a birth cohort study in Mexico City. Concentrations of As, Cd, and Pb were measured from pregnant women in 2T blood and urine, and Hg in urine only. Kidney biomarkers were measured from children in urine at age 8–12 years. We assessed the associations between individual metals and (1) kidney biomarkers using linear regression and (2) a multi-protein kidney mixture using weighted quantile sum (WQS) regression. Associations of separate urine and blood metal mixtures with individual kidney biomarkers were assessed via WQS. Within the multi-protein mixture, the association with increased urinary As was predominated by urine alpha-1-microglobulin (A1M), interferon gamma-induced protein 10 (IP10), and fatty acid binding protein 1; the association with increased urinary Cd was predominated by A1M, clusterin, and albumin. The urine metal mixture was associated with increased albumin (0.23 ng/mL; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.10, 0.37), IP10 (0.15 ng/mL; 95% CI: 0.02, 0.28), and cystatin C (0.17 ng/mL; 95% CI: 0.04, 0.31); these associations were mainly driven by urinary As and Cd. We observed null associations between prenatal blood or urine metal mixtures and estimated glomerular filtration rate. Higher prenatal urinary metals, individually and as a mixture were associated with altered kidney injury biomarkers in children. Further research and longer participant follow-up are required to ascertain the risk of kidney disease later in life.

Original languageEnglish
Article number692
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • arsenic
  • cadmium
  • heavy metals
  • lead
  • mercury
  • mixture
  • renal health


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