School of Paediatrics and Child Health

Kathryn Ramsey


Kathryn Ramsey

School of Paediatrics & Child Health
The University of Western Australia
Princess Margaret Hospital for Children
PO Box D 184, Subiaco
WA 6840

Phone (+61) 9340 8606
Fax (+61) 9388 2097


Start date

March 2009

Submission date

March 2013

Kathryn Ramsey


Early Life Exposure to Arsenic via Drinking Water and Impairments to Lung Structure and Function.


Arsenic contamination of drinking water is an environmental health problem affecting hundreds of millions of people throughout the world. This thesis examined the mechanisms linking arsenic exposure in early life to the development of chronic lung disease. Arsenic exposure caused intrauterine growth restriction, impaired lung growth and mechanics, altered airway morphology and altered expression of important genes involved in innate immunity, mucous production and lung morphogenesis. Arsenic exposure reduced the clearance of influenza virus and exacerbated the inflammatory response to infection. These data suggest that arsenic primes the lungs for respiratory infections and increases the risk of developing lung disease.

Why my research is important

A number of potential mechanisms by which exposure to low dose arsenic in early life may increase the susceptibility to developing chronic lung disease were identified in this thesis. These results add substantially to the growing body of evidence which implicates early life arsenic exposure in the impaired development of the lungs with long term implications for lung structure, lung function, infection and the development of chronic lung disease. These results highlight the susceptibility of infants and children to the adverse health effects of environmental exposures and the role which environmental exposures play in the pathogenesis of respiratory disease. The detrimental effects of early life arsenic exposure on the lung may place millions of children and adults at an increased risk of morbidity and mortality from chronic lung diseases.


  • Australian Postgraduate Award
  • Stan and Jean Perron Award

School of Paediatrics and Child Health

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Monday, 1 September, 2014 3:18 PM