Andrea Kirk

Research Associate

AKirk@uta.edu


Research Profile

Iodide and Iodide Nutrition

Iodine is an essential nutrient needed solely for formation of thyroid hormones. When many people think of thyroid hormones they think of their roles in regulating metabolic rate. Thyroid hormones also play an important role in brain development. Infants who were mildly iodine-deficient or had relatively low levels of thyroid hormone during gestation are more likely to have learning disabilities and attention-deficit hyperactivity-like traits. Infants may be born with profound mental retardation if iodine deficiency was severe. Brain development continues, of course, long after parturition. It is important that infants continue to receive adequate iodine intake after birth. Our research on iodide levels in human milk indicates American women may not be getting enough iodide to meet their infants' needs. Most US milk samples we have analyzed do not contain enough iodide to meet Institute of Medicine (IOM)-recommended intake levels for infants.  

Perchlorate and Thiocyanate

There are many chemicals in the environment that can interfere with thyroid hormones. These chemicals may pose greater hazard to infants if they are already iodine-deficient. We are studying two chemicals, perchlorate and thiocyanate, that are known to interfere with iodide-uptake. We are concerned that these chemicals will reduce the iodide-content of milk. Once infants drink milk containing iodide-uptake inhibitors they will be at greater risk of iodide-deficiency simply because they may be less able to use the iodide they receive. Perchlorate is a common contaminant of food and water. Thiocyanate is produced in the body during the metabolism of certain natural compounds in foods and cigarette smoke.

We discovered perchlorate in cow's and human milk in 2003. Since then we have completed two studies of perchlorate, and have undertaken three additional projects. One of our completed studies showed that perchlorate was present in human and cow's milk samples sent from all regions of the US (including Alaska and Hawaii). The other showed that perchlorate levels in human milk vary over time. Levels are lower in the morning, and rise towards the end of the day. This is probably because perchlorate, while rapidly excreted, is consumed in food and/or water throughout the day.

Our current perchlorate projects investigate how perchlorate, thiocyanate and iodide levels change together in milk. We have found that thiocyanate is also common in human milk. We will use data from these studies to evaluate infant perchlorate, iodide and thiocyanate intake. Thiocyanate in milk has not been studied in detail. We do not know how much is safe for babies to drink. There are no current recommendations for intake limits. Thiocyanate is high in serum of lactating women who smoke. It may also be high in their breast milk.

Iodine and iodine-uptake inhibitors

Iodine is an essential nutrient needed solely for formation of thyroid hormones. When many people think of thyroid hormones they think of their roles in regulating metabolic rate. Thyroid hormones also play an important role in brain development. Infants who were mildly iodine-deficient or had relatively low levels of thyroid hormone during gestation are more likely to have learning disabilities and attention-deficit hyperactivity-like traits. Infants may be born with profound mental retardation if iodine deficiency was severe. Brain development continues, of course, long after parturition. It is important that infants continue to receive adequate iodine intake after birth. Our research on iodide levels in human milk indicates American women may not be getting enough iodide to meet their infants' needs. Most US milk samples we have analyzed do not contain enough iodide to meet Institute of Medicine (IOM)-recommended intake levels for infants. 
There are many chemicals in the environment that can interfere with thyroid hormones. These chemicals may pose greater hazard to infants if they are already iodine-deficient. We are studying two chemicals, perchlorate and thiocyanate, that are known to interfere with iodide-uptake. We are concerned that these chemicals will reduce the iodide-content of milk. Once infants drink milk containing iodide-uptake inhibitors they will be at greater risk of iodide-deficiency simply because they may be less able to use the iodide they receive. Perchlorate is a common contaminant of food and water. Thiocyanate is produced in the body during the metabolism of certain natural compounds in foods and cigarette smoke.Our current projects investigate how perchlorate, thiocyanate and iodide levels change together in milk. We have found that thiocyanate is also common in human milk. Thiocyanate in milk has not been studied in detail. We do not know how much is safe for babies to drink. There are no current recommendations for intake limits. Thiocyanate is high in serum of lactating women who smoke. It may also be high in their breast milk.


 

Education

  • Ph.D. in Environmental Toxicology, 2005, The Institute of Environmental and Human Health, Texas Tech University. Dissertation on lactational excretion of perchlorate, Research assistant in Reproductive Toxicology, Teaching assistant in Neurotoxicology
  • M.S. in Biology, 2000, Sul Ross State University. Thesis in Environmental Microbiology. Teaching Assistant in Statistics
  • B.A. in Fine Arts, Brandeis University. Concentration in Painting and Sculpture

Career History

  • Lecturer.  Honors College.  University of North Texas.  August 2008 to present.  Courses in chemistry, biology and interdisciplinary studies.
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow. Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.  University of Texas at Arlington.  January 2007 to present. 
  • Postdoctoral Fellow in Analytical Chemistry.  Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.  Texas Tech University.  May 2005 to December 2006. 
  • Senior Instructor and Technical Specialist, Hurricane Island Outward Bound School, Canadian Outward Bound Wilderness School, Voyageur Outward Bound School, New York City Outward Bound Center. 1990 to 1998.   Travel in remote environments, instruction in technical rescue, leadership development, team building, whitewater, ice and rock climbing instructor.

 

Awards

  • Horn Professors’ Graduate Achievement Award. 2005. This award is given when a student’s research or creative endeavors achieve national recognition.

  • First prize in biology for research presentation at Texas Tech Graduate Research Symposium. 2005.

  • Texas Association of Public Health presentation award. 2005.

  • Full Travel Award to Society of Environmental Toxicologists and Chemists International Meeting. 2004.

  • Full Travel Award to NIEHS conference on thyroid hormone and neurodevelopment. 2002

  • Brandeis University Academic Scholarship

  • Richardson Pratt Scholarship for Community Service


Publications

  • Kirk AB, Dyke JV, Ohira SI, Dasgupta PK.  2008 (submitted).  Effect of iodine supplementation on iodine, perchlorate and thiocyanate levels in human milk.
  • Dasgupta PK, Kirk AB, Dyke JV, Ohira S-I.  2008.  Intake of iodine and perchlorate and excretion in human milk.  Environmental Science and Technology. DOI: 10.1021/es801549w. 
  • Ohira SI, Kirk AB, Dyke JV, Dasgupta PK.  2008 (in press).  Automated measurement of urinary creatinine by multichannel kinetic spectrophotometry.  Analytical Biochemistry.
  • Ohira SI, Kirk AB, Dyke JV, Dasgupta PK.  2008 (in press).  Effectiveness of creatinine adjustment in predicting iodine excretion.
  • Kirk AB, Dyke JV, Martin CF, Dasgupta PK.  2007.  Temporal patterns in perchlorate, thiocyanate and iodide excretion in human milk.  Environmental Health Perspectives 115(2): 182-6.
  • Cheng QQ, Smith EE; Kirk AB, Liu F, Boyland LM, McCarty ME, Hart S, Dong LX, Cobb GP, Jackson WA, Anderson TA.  2007.  Fatty acid profile in milk from goats, Capra aegagrus hircus, exposed to perchlorate and its relationship with perchlorate residues in human milk.  Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology.  79: 472-477. 
  • Dasgupta PK, Dyke JV, Kirk AB, Jackson WA.  2006.  Perchlorate in the United States: analysis of relative source contributions to the food chain.  Environmental Science and Technology.  40(21): 6608-14.
  • Kirk, AB.  2006.  Perchlorate, why it matters.  Analytica Chimica Acta.  Special issue on perchlorate. Analytica Chimica Acta.  567 (1): 4-12.
  • Dyke JV, Kirk AB, Martinelango K, Dasgupta PK.  2006.  Sample processing method for analysis of perchlorate in milk.  Analytica Chimica Acta. 567(1): 73-8.
  • Kirk AB, Martinelago PK, Tian K, Dutta A, Smith EE, Dasgupta PK.  2005.  Response to comment on “Perchlorate and iodide in dairy and breast milk”.  Environmental Science and Technology.  39(15): 5902-5903. 
  • Kirk AB, Martinelago PK, Tian K, Dutta A, Smith EE, Dasgupta PK.  2005.  Response to comment on “Perchlorate and iodide in dairy and breast milk”.  Environmental Science and Technology.  39(14): 5499-5500. 
  • *Kirk AB, Martinelango K, Dutta A, Tian K, Smith EE, Dasgupta, PK.  2005.  Perchlorate and iodide in dairy and breast milk. Environmental Science and Technology.  39:2011-2017.
  • Kirk AB, Smith, EE, Tian K, Anderson T, and Dasgupta, PK.  2003.  Perchlorate in milk.  Environmental Science and Technology.  37(21): 4979-81.

* This paper received recognition as “Most Accessed Paper” for Environmental Science and Technology for 2005.



Presentations and abstracts

  • Kirk AB, Dyke JV, Ohira S, Sun-Mitchell S, Little B, Dasgupta PK.  2008.  Changes in Iodine, Perchlorate and Thiocyanate Levels in Human Milk Following Iodine Supplementation.  American College of Preventive Medicine Annual Meeting.  Austin, TX. 
  • Kirk AB, Dyke JV, Dasgupta PK.  2006.  Temporal Patterns in Perchlorate, Thiocyanate and Iodine Excretion in Human Milk.  The Endocrine Society. Annual Meeting.  Boston, MA. 
  • Invited Speaker, Silent Spring Institute, Newton, Ma.  Presentation on perchlorate research and implications for infant development.  July, 2005. 
  • Kirk AB. Martinelango K.  Iodide and Perchlorate in Human Milk.  Texas Association of Public Health.  2005. 
  • Kirk A, Dasgupta P, Martinelango K, Dutta A, Tian K, Anderson TA, Smith EE.  Perchlorate in human and ruminant milk.  International meeting of Society of Environmental Toxicologists and Chemists.  2004.
  • Kirk A, Smith EE, Anderson TA.  Development of a method for detection of perchlorate in milk.  National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences meeting on thyroid hormones and brain development.  2002.
  • Kirk A, Anderson TA, Smith EE.  Detection of perchlorate in milk.  Gulf Coast Society of Toxicology annual meeting.  2002.


Memberships

  • Society of Environmental Toxicologists and Chemists
  • The Endocrine Society


Awards

  • 2005 recipient of a Paul Whitfield Horn Professors’ Graduate Achievement Award.  This award is presented when a graduate student's work achieves national recognition. 
  • 2005 first prize in biology for research presentation at Texas Tech Graduate Research Symposium
  • 2005 Texas Association of Public Health presentation award.
  • 2004 Full Travel Award to Society of Environmental Toxicologists and Chemists International Meeting.
  • 2002 Full Travel Award to NIEHS conference on thyroid hormone and neurodevelopment.
  • Brandeis University Academic Scholarship
  • Mrs. Richardson Pratt Scholarship


































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