Fetuses absorb dioxin in mothers' blood

April 9, 1999

Sources: Asahi newspaper



Researchers find a similar level of dioxin in the blood of women and their unborn babies.  

OSAKA-- dioxin study suggests that the cancer-causing chemical compound is absorbed by the fetus through the blood of its mother, researchers at Osaka Medical College said Thursday.  

Minoru Ueki, professor of gynecology and obstetrics who headed the research, said similar levels of dioxin were detected from fat contained in the blood of mothers and their unborn babies.  

"Judging from the results, it seems that dioxins contained in blood of mothers are transferred into the blood of unborn babies without being checked (by the body)," Ueki said.  

Ueki said further studies are needed to determine the influence of dioxin on unborn babies.  

It had been believed that the amount of dioxin absorbed by the fetus was rather small because the dioxin density in the blood of a fetus is lower than the density in adult blood, Ueki said.  

The researchers examined samples taken from placentas, blood, milk, and blood in umbilical cords from 20 women who gave birth at two facilities, including the college hospital.  

The researchers found an average 22.7 picograms of dioxin from one gram of fat contained in the blood of the women. One picogram is one-trillionth of a gram.  

The dioxin density averaged 20.5 picograms per gram of fat in the blood of fetuses taken from umbilical cards. The figure accounts for about 90 percent the average among mothers' blood.  

Researchers examined dioxin in fat because it absorbs a large portion of the chemical.  

Dioxin density in placentas averaged 67.3 picograms. The figure in mothers' milk stood at 28.3 picograms, Ueki said.  

The samples were analyzed by Hideaki Miyata, professor at pharmaceutical department of Setsunan University, and others.  

Ueki will report the results to an academic meeting of gynecologists and obstetricians in Tokyo on Tuesday.