NIH Study Links Cadmium and Lead in Blood to Delays in Pregnancy

The measure estimates couples' probability of pregnancy each cycle, by their blood concentration of metals. A ratio less than one suggests a longer time to pregnancy, while a ratio greater than one suggests a shorter time to pregnancy. Females' blood cadmium concentration was associated with a ratio below 1 (0.78), which means that the probability of pregnancy was reduced by 22 percent with each increase in the level of cadmium.

Males' blood lead exposure also was associated with a ratio below 1 (0.85) with increasing levels, or about a 15 percent reduction in the probability of pregnancy for each increase in the level of blood lead concentrations.
 
The researchers also calculated a fecundability odds ratio based on both partners’ combined lead, cadmium and mercury concentrations.

The researchers found a ratio of 0.82 for male lead exposure, representing approximately a 28 percent reduction in the probability of pregnancy for each menstrual cycle, with increasing male blood lead concentration.
 
"The findings highlight the importance of assessing couples' exposure jointly, in a single, combined measure," Dr. Buck Louis said.  "Males matter, because couples’ chances of becoming pregnant each cycle were reduced with increasing blood lead concentrations in men."
 
About the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD): The NICHD sponsors research on development, before and after birth; maternal, child, and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation. For more information, visit the Institute’s website at http://www.nichd.nih.gov/.
 
About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.

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