Smoking, lead linked to pregnancy delay

Feb. 8, 2012 at 11:05 PM
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BETHESDA, Md., Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Higher blood levels of cadmium in females, and higher blood levels of lead in males, delayed pregnancy in those trying to have a baby, U.S. researchers said.

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues said smokers are estimated to have twice the levels of cadmium as do non-smokers, but exposure also occurs in workplaces where cadmium-containing products are made and from industrial emissions. Common sources of lead exposure include lead-based paint in older homes, lead-glazed pottery, contaminated soil and contaminated drinking water.

Germaine M. Buck Louis of NIH's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and colleagues enrolled 501 couples from four counties in Michigan and 12 counties in Texas, from 2005 to 2009. The women were ages 18-44 and the men were age 18 and older.

Couples provided blood samples for the analysis of three heavy metals.

"Our results indicate that men and women planning to have children should minimize their exposure to lead and cadmium," Louis said in a statement. "They can reduce cadmium exposure by avoiding cigarettes or by quitting if they are current smokers, especially if they intend to become pregnant in the future. Similarly, they can take steps to reduce their exposure to lead based paints, which may occur in older housing, including during periods of home renovation."

The study was published online in Chemosphere.

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