Selenium and maternal blood pressure during childbirth

Ellen M. Wells, Lynn R. Goldman, Jeffery M. Jarrett, Benjamin J. Apelberg, Julie B. Herbstman, Kathleen L. Caldwell, Rolf Halden, Frank R. Witter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Evidence suggests selenium concentrations outside the nutritional range may worsen cardiovascular health. This paper examines the relationship between selenium and maternal blood pressure (BP) among 270 deliveries using umbilical cord serum as a proxy for maternal exposure levels. Multivariable models used linear splines for selenium and controlled for gestational age, maternal age, race, median household income, parity, smoking, and prepregnancy body mass index. Non-parametric analysis of this dataset was used to select spline knots for selenium at 70 and 90 g/l. When selenium was 70 g/l, increasing selenium levels were related to a non-statistically significant decrease in BP. For selenium 70-90 g/l, a 1 g/l increase was related to a 0.37 mm Hg (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.005, 0.73) change in systolic and a 0.35 mm Hg (0.07, 0.64) change in diastolic BP. There were very few selenium values 90 g/l. Other studies indicate that the maternal/cord selenium ratio is 1.46 (95% CI: 1.28, 1.65). This u-shaped relationship between selenium and BP is consistent with a dual role of selenium as an essential micronutrient that is nonetheless a toxicant at higher concentrations; however, this needs to be studied further.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-197
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2012


  • blood pressure
  • pregnancy
  • selenium
  • umbilical cord

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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