Trace Elements in Hair in the UK: Results and Interpretation in the Preconception Situation

The paper examines the high incidence of birth defects that still occur in the UK and suggests that it might be possible to reduce this by preparing prospective mothers for parenthood prior to conception. One test in particular is suggested as having a part to play in this preconception screening - that being the hair metals analysis. Such a screening test is useful in identifying both excesses of toxic metals and deficiencies of essential metals.

The results from our studies seem to indicate a high proportion of potential mothers as having low levels of manganese, iron and possibly zinc in their hair. The significance of these findings is discussed in relation to the possible effect on birth defects and the possible routine use of hair metal testing in the pre-conception situation is suggested.

P.J Barlow, S.A. Sidani, and M. Lyons (The Science of the Total Environment, 42 (1985) 121--131)