Effects of heavy metal exposure during pregnancy on birth outcomes

Ko-CHENS Study group

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Exposure to heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, and mercury poses serious health risks to pregnant women because of their high toxicity. In this study, we investigated the associations of heavy metal exposure with birth outcomes of Korean infants. Data of 5,215 women between 2015 and 2019 were analyzed. This study was part of the Korean Children’s Environmental Health (Ko-CHENS) study. Linear regression and logistic regression analyses were used to examine effects of concentrations of lead, cadmium, and mercury on birth weight, small for gestational age, and large for gestational age after adjusting for maternal age groups, parity, infant sex, education, income, smoking, drinking, body mass index, stillbirth, premature birth, diabetes, hypertension, and gestational diabetes. Besides adjusting for these covariates, each metal was mutually adjusted to estimate birth weight and large for gestational age status. Maternal cadmium concentrations during early pregnancy (β = − 39.96; 95% confidence interval (CI): − 63.76, − 16.17) and late pregnancy (β = − 37.24; 95% CI − 61.63, − 12.84) were significantly associated with birth weight. Cadmium levels during early pregnancy (adjusted OR = 0.637; 95% CI 0.444, 0.912) were also associated with large for gestational age status. Our findings suggest that prenatal cadmium exposure, even at a low level of exposure, is significantly associated with low birth weight.

Original languageEnglish
Article number18990
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

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© 2023, The Author(s).


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