Maternal exposure to low-level heavy metals during pregnancy and birth size

J Environ Sci Health A Tox Hazard Subst Environ Eng. 2010 Sep;45(11):1468-74. doi: 10.1080/10934529.2010.500942.


We evaluated the effect of environmental, low-level exposure to heavy metals during pregnancy, as estimated by urine analysis, on birth size of the newborns. Spot urine samples were collected from unexposed 78 pregnant women in Tokyo during 2007 and 2008. The urinary concentrations of beryllium (Be), copper (Cu), arsenic (As), zinc (Zn), selenium (Se), molybdenum (Mo), cadmium (Cd), tin (Sn), antimony (Sb), and lead (Pb) were measured by ICP-MS. The birthweight (BW), length (BL) and head circumference (HC) of the newborns delivered to the subjects were measured and relationship with urinary metal concentration was examined. The geometric mean concentration of urinary Be, Cu, As, Zn, Se, Mo, Cd, Sn, Sb, and Pb were 0.031, 12.8, 393, 76.9, 37.6, 79.0, 0.766, 0.232, < 0.21, 0.483 microg g-creatinine(-1), respectively. The mean birth size of the newborn was close to the national average value in Japan. Stepwise multiple regression analysis using birth size as a dependent variable and urinary metal concentrations and covariates as independent variables extracted urinary Cd with a significant negative standardized partial regression coefficient (beta) for BW along with gestational age and maternal BMI. For HC, Sn was selected with a negative beta. The present study suggested that even a low-level Cd body burden of general population has slight but significant negative effect on BW.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antimony / urine
  • Arsenic / urine
  • Beryllium / urine
  • Birth Weight
  • Cadmium / urine
  • Copper / urine
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Japan
  • Lead / urine
  • Maternal Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Metals, Heavy / urine*
  • Molybdenum / urine
  • Pregnancy
  • Selenium / urine
  • Tin / urine
  • Zinc / urine


  • Metals, Heavy
  • Cadmium
  • Lead
  • Tin
  • Copper
  • Molybdenum
  • Antimony
  • Selenium
  • Zinc
  • Arsenic
  • Beryllium