Do the levels of maternal plasma trace elements affect fetal nuchal translucency thickness?

Kai Wei Liao, Ming Song Tsai, Chia Huang Chang, Ling Chu Chien, I. Fang Mao, Yen An Tsai, Mei Lien Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Fetal nuchal translucency (NT) thickness is an important marker for prenatal screening; however, studies focusing on the correlation between maternal trace element levels and NT thickness are limited. The aim of this study was to evaluate maternal trace element levels during the first trimester and to investigate the association between maternal trace element levels and fetal NT thickness. Methods: In total, 113 samples were obtained from singleton pregnant women. Maternal plasma samples were collected in the first trimester of gestation. Plasma trace element levels were measured using Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS). Nuchal translucency thickness was measured using ultrasonography at 10-14 weeks of gestation. Results: We found that maternal plasma potassium (K) levels had a significant negative correlation with both NT (r = -0.230, p <0.05) and NT Multiples of the Median (NT MoM) (r = -0.206, p <0.05). After adjustment for potential confounders, log-transformed maternal plasma potassium levels in the first trimester were significantly associated with fetal NT (NT MoM: β = -0.68, p <0.05; NT: β = -1.20, p <0.01). Although not statistically significant, the As, Hg and Pb levels in maternal plasma were positively correlated with NT, and the Mg, Cu, Zn, Na and Ca levels were negatively correlated with NT. Conclusion: Maternal plasma K levels during the first trimester appeared to be associated with NT thickness. The essential elements tended to decrease NT thickness, and non-essential elements tended to increase it.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0138145
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2015


  • nuchal translucency measurement
  • trace element

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Medicine


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