Cadmium Body Burden and Gestational Diabetes Mellitus: A Prospective Study

Environ Health Perspect. 2018 Feb 8;126(2):027006. doi: 10.1289/EHP2716.


Background: Several studies have reported that cadmium (Cd) is associated with type 2 diabetes. However, little is known about Cd exposure and the risk of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM).

Objective: We examined the association between Cd body burden in early pregnancy and the risk of GDM.

Methods: We conducted a prospective study of 2,026 pregnant women from a single tertiary medical center between 2013 and 2016 in Wuhan, China. Cd body burden was reflected by Cd concentrations in urine samples collected between gestational weeks 8 and 14. GDM was diagnosed according to International Association of Diabetes and Pregnancy Study Groups Consensus Panel (IADPSG) recommendations.

Results: The geometric mean of Cd concentrations in maternal urine of all pregnant women was 0.59μg/L. A total of 198 (9.8%) women were diagnosed with GDM. After adjustment for potential confounders, the risk ratios (RRs) of GDM were 1.04 (95% CI: 0.74, 1.44) for the middle tertile of Cd levels and 1.36 (95%: CI: 0.98, 1.90) for the top tertile compared with the bottom tertile. In addition, we found a significant interaction between fetal sex and maternal Cd levels on the risk of GDM (p for interaction=0.03). Among women carrying male fetuses, the RR of GDM was 1.86 (95% CI: 1.14, 2.93) for the top tertile of Cd levels compared with the bottom tertile.

Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the first report of an association between urinary Cd levels in early pregnancy and GDM. Our findings suggest that Cd body burden increases the risk of GDM and that the association may be modified by fetal sex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Burden*
  • Cadmium / toxicity*
  • Cadmium / urine
  • China
  • Diabetes, Gestational / chemically induced*
  • Diabetes, Gestational / diagnosis
  • Diabetes, Gestational / epidemiology
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, First
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk
  • Sex Factors
  • Tertiary Care Centers
  • Young Adult


  • Cadmium