, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 61-66

Concentrations of heavy metals in maternal and umbilical cord blood

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Concentrations of lead, cadmium, methylmercury and total mercury were measured in maternal and umbilical cord blood using graphite atomic absorption spectrometry. Two essential metals, copper and zinc, were also determined using ion chromatography. Lead, copper and zinc were found to be lower in the cord blood, whereas methylmercury and total mercury were higher in cord blood than in maternal blood. Little differences were noted for cadmium in maternal and cord blood. Significant positive correlations were observed between the concentrations in maternal and cord blood with regard to lead (correlation coefficient, r = 0.44), copper (r = 0.34), zinc (r = 0.29), methylmercury (r = 0.44) and total mercury (r = 0.58). These results suggest that, like essential metals, most heavy metals can move rather freely across the human placenta. The potential health effects of heavy metal transfer from mothers to young infants cannot be discounted.