A recent study led by researchers in the NICHD Division of Intramural Population Health Research showed that higher blood levels of cadmium in females, and higher blood levels of lead in males, delayed pregnancy in couples trying to become pregnant:
- Females’ blood cadmium concentration was associated with a 22% reduction in the probability of pregnancy with each increase in the level of cadmium.
- Males’ blood lead exposure was associated with a 15% reduction in the probability of pregnancy for each increase in the level of blood lead concentrations.
Cigarette smoke is the most common source of exposure to cadmium, a toxic metal found in the earth’s crust, used in batteries, pigments, metal coatings and plastics. Lead, a toxic metal also found in the earth’s crust, is used in a variety of products, such as ceramics, pipes, and batteries. Common sources of lead exposure in the United States include lead-based paint in older homes, lead-glazed pottery, contaminated soil, and contaminated drinking water (PMID: 20933593).