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NIH study links high levels of cadmium, lead in blood to pregnancy delay
Date:2/8/2012

Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta; and the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, Atlanta.

"Our results indicate that men and women planning to have children should minimize their exposure to lead and cadmium," Dr. Buck Louis said. "They can reduce cadmium exposure by avoiding cigarettes or by quitting if they are current smokers, especially if they intend to become pregnant in the future. Similarly, they can take steps to reduce their exposure to lead based paints, which may occur in older housing, including during periods of home renovation."

To conduct the study, the researchers enrolled 501 couples from four counties in Michigan and 12 counties in Texas, from 2005 to 2009. The women ranged from 18 to 44 years of age, and the men were over 18. Couples provided blood samples for the analysis of three heavy metals. Women kept journals to record their monthly menstrual cycles and the results of home pregnancy tests. The couples were followed until pregnancy or for up to one year of trying.

The researchers ranked the study participants on the basis of their blood levels of lead and cadmium. The researchers also measured the participants' blood mercury levels, but found they were not associated with the length of time couples required to become pregnant. Nearly every study participant had some exposure to these common metals, although blood levels of the metals varied across participants.

Researchers calculated the probability that a couple would achieve pregnancy by levels of blood cadmium and lead with a statistical measure called the fecundability odds ratio. The measure estimates couples' probability of pregnancy each cycle, by their blood concentration of metals. A ratio less than one suggests a longer time to pregnancy, while a ratio greater than one suggests a shorter time to pregnancy. Females' blood cadmium concentration was associated with a ratio below 1 (0.78)
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Contact: Robert Bock or Marianne Glass Miller
bockr@mail.nih.gov
301-496-5134
NIH/National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Source:Eurekalert

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