Cadmium and children: exposure and health effects

Acta Paediatr Suppl. 2006 Oct;95(453):50-4. doi: 10.1080/08035320600886232.


Cadmium exposure and accumulation in the body start at young age. Exposure routes in children are mainly via food, environmental tobacco smoke and house dust. Excretion from the body is limited. Cadmium accumulation in the kidney is responsible for effects such as nephrotoxicity and osteoporosis which are observed at adult age. Cadmium exposure through inhalation is also associated with lung cancer in adulthood. Although transfer to the neonate through the placenta and through breast milk is limited, teratogenic and developmental effects were observed in experimental animals. The database on human studies involving children is limited, yet effects on motoric and perceptual behaviour in children have been associated with elevated in utero cadmium exposure. In school age children urinary cadmium levels were associated with immune suppressive effects. More studies are needed to confirm these results. Experimental data in vitro and in animals refer to effects of cadmium on the hypothalamus-pituitary axis at different levels. This may lead to disorders of the endocrine and/or immune system. Cadmium exposure at early age should be limited as much as possible to prevent direct effects on children and to prevent accumulation of cadmium which may have serious health effects only becoming manifest at older age.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cadmium / metabolism
  • Cadmium / toxicity*
  • Child
  • Child Welfare*
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Environmental Health*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Neurotoxicity Syndromes / etiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / epidemiology
  • Soil Pollutants / analysis


  • Soil Pollutants
  • Cadmium