Prenatal blood levels of some toxic metals and the risk of spontaneous abortion


High-level toxic metal exposure has become rare in the recent years. Although, it has not known whether relatively lower exposure may adversely affect human reproductive system. Spontaneous abortion (SA) is a serious reproductive problem, which, in many cases, the cause(s) is not clearly understood. To assess the relationship between prenatal blood level of metals and SA risk, we compared blood concentration of some heavy metals in samples taken from mothers recruited in Tehran Environment and Neurodevelopmental Defects (TEND) study conducted on apparently healthy pregnant women in Tehran, Iran who subsequently experienced spontaneous abortion with mothers who their pregnancy ended to live births. During early gestation, 206 women were enrolled to the survey and followed up till fetal abortion or baby deliveries occur. Blood metal concentrations were measured using an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer. The mean blood levels of lead, antimony, and nickel were higher in SA than ongoing pregnancy; however, this difference was not statistically significant. When adjusted for covariates, the logistic regression analysis showed significant association between maternal age and the risk of SA in all models. Among toxic metals only antimony had a noticeable positive relation with the risk of SA (OR: 1.65, 95% CI:1.08–2.52, P value: 0.02). Pearson’s correlation coefficient showed significant (P < 0.05) positive correlations among prenatal blood metals levels, except for nickel. Although the present study failed to provide strong evidence for the effects of toxic metals on the occurrence of SA at the relatively low-levels, these metals should be avoided in women who plan pregnancy and/or during the early stages of gestation to prevent the chance of adverse effects.

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This research project was financially supported by Institute for Environmental Research, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Iran by (Grant No. 25759-46-02-94), and Iran National Sciences Foundation (INFS) by (Grant No.93050433) and a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (Grant No. 15H05288). The authors acknowledge all participants and administrations of hospitals and health care centers for their cooperation.


This research project was financially supported by Institute for Environmental Research, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Iran by (Grant No. 25759-46-02-94), and Iran National Sciences Foundation (INFS) by (Grant No.93050433) and a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (Grant No. 15H05288).

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Correspondence to Mohsen Vigeh or Masud Yunesian.

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The TUMS Ethical Committees reviewed and approved the study design, procedures, and informed consent format (permission No:IR.TUMS.REC.1394.1180).

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Vigeh, M., Yunesian, M., Matsukawa, T. et al. Prenatal blood levels of some toxic metals and the risk of spontaneous abortion. J Environ Health Sci Engineer (2021).

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  • Toxic metal
  • Pregnancy
  • Spontaneous abortion
  • Blood
  • Antimony