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Occup Environ Med. 2002 Jun;59(6):394-6; discussion 397.

Effects of maternal exposure to cadmium on pregnancy outcome and breast milk.

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  • 1Department of Public Health, Kanazawa Medical University, Uchinada, Ishikawa, Japan. ni-koei@kanazawa-med.ac.jp



The effects of cadmium (Cd) on birth weight have been discussed in the scientific literature. However, investigations on the effects of maternal body burden of Cd on the next generation during pregnancy and lactation have been limited. The relation between maternal exposure to Cd and pregnancy outcome or Cd in breast milk in Japanese mothers was investigated.


Cd concentrations in urine and colostrum milk samples of 57 mothers were measured by atomic absorption spectrophotometery. The relations between maternal urinary Cd and infant growth, gestational age at birth, and Cd in breast milk were investigated.


The rate of perterm deliveries of mothers with higher urinary Cd (> or =2 nmol/mmol creatinine (Cr)) was higher than that of mothers with lower urinary Cd (<2 nmol/mmol Cr). The gestational age was significantly correlated with urinary Cd even after adjustment for maternal age. The height and weight of newborn infants of mothers with higher urinary Cd were significantly lower than those of the newborn infants of mothers with lower urinary Cd, but these decreases were ascribed to early delivery induced by Cd. The Cd in breast milk of mothers with higher urinary Cd was significantly higher than that of mothers with lower urinary Cd. A significant positive correlation was found between maternal urinary Cd and Cd in breast milk.


Maternal exposure to Cd seems to increase early delivery, which leads to a lower birth weight. Also, the Cd is transferred in part to the next generation through breast milk after birth.

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