Prenatal metal concentrations and physical abnormalities in the Japan Environment and Children's Study

Pediatr Res. 2023 Oct 19. doi: 10.1038/s41390-023-02851-4. Online ahead of print.


Background: The association between prenatal metal exposure and congenital anomalies is unclear. We aimed to examine the association between exposure to cadmium, lead, mercury, selenium, and manganese and physical abnormalities.

Methods: Data from 89,887 pregnant women with singleton pregnancies who participated in the Japan Environment and Children's Study (JECS) were used. The correlation between maternal blood metal concentrations and physical abnormalities during the second or third trimester was investigated using logistic regression models. Physical anomalies included those observed at birth or at 1 month, primarily from ICD-10 Chapter 17, particularly congenital anomalies associated with environmental factors (e.g., hypospadias, cryptorchidism, cleft lip and palate, digestive tract atresia, congenital heart disease, and chromosomal abnormalities) and minor abnormalities.

Results: After adjusting for covariates, the OR (95% CIs) of physical abnormalities for a one-unit rise in Mn concentrations in all individuals were 1.26 (1.08, 1.48). The OR (95% CIs) of physical abnormalities in the 4th quartile (≥18.7 ng/g) were 1.06 (1.01, 1.13) (p-value for the trend = 0.034) compared with those in the 1st quartile (≤12.5 ng/g).

Conclusion: In Japan, maternal blood Mn concentrations above threshold during pregnancy may slightly increase the incidence of physical abnormalities.

Impact: Physical abnormalities (including minor anomalies and congenital anomalies) are associated with prenatal manganese concentrations. They are not associated with cadmium, lead, mercury, and selenium concentrations.