Christine M. Pfeiffer and Rosemary L. Schleicher
Division of Laboratory Sciences, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA
Using advanced laboratory sciences and innovative techniques, CDC has been in the forefront of efforts to assess the nutritional status of the U.S. population through long-term monitoring of nutritional biomarkers in large-scale population studies, such as the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The National Report on Biochemical Indicators of Diet and Nutrition in the U.S. Population 1999-2002 (www.cdc.gov/nutritionreport) is a comprehensive CDC publication that offers nationally representative reference information for 27 nutritional indicators derived from NHANES. To continually improve the analytical measurement of biochemical indicators, CDC is collaborating with international metrological institutes on the development of reference materials and higher-order reference methods, with external quality assurance providers to characterize materials used in accuracy-based surveys, and with manufacturers to help standardize measurements. CDC is also collaborating nationally and internationally with public health scientists to help assess the validity of new nutritional biomarkers for large-scale population studies and to help ensure the comparability of nutritional biomarker data across the world. State-of-the-art analytical techniques such as isotope-dilution single or triple quadrupole mass spectrometry coupled to either liquid or gas chromatography enable the measurement of individual species of certain vitamins or nutrients with great sensitivity, specificity and accuracy. However, these techniques tend to generate a large volume of data for which the quality assurance system becomes challenging. Interdisciplinary consultations among chemists, epidemiologists, biostatisticians, clinicians, and computer programmers therefore become a vital part of any successful biomonitoring program.
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