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Exposure to heavy metals (lead, cadmium and mercury) and its effect on the outcome of in-vitro fertilization treatment *

We investigated the effect of lead, cadmium and mercury exposure on pregnancy and fertilization rate outcome among 619 Saudi women (age 19–50 years) who sought in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment between 2002 and 2003. The concentrations of lead, cadmium and mercury were measured in both blood and follicular fluids. At levels well below the current US occupational exposure limit guidelines (40 μg/dL) and even less than the current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention level of concern for preventing lead poisoning in children (10 μg/dL), blood lead level was negatively associated with fertilization outcome in both adjusted and unadjusted logistic regression models. We found that among various demographic, socioeconomic and environmental factors, fish consumption was positively associated with blood lead levels.

These results support the hypothesis that a raised blood lead level affects infertility and intervention to reduce the lead exposure might be needed for women of reproductive age. The present results also revealed unexpected finding – the positive relationship between follicular cadmium levels and fertilization outcome, which points to the necessity for further investigation. Though adverse effect of mercury on pregnancy outcome or fertilization rate was not evident in this study, mercurygreater-or-equal, slanted5.8 μg/L (EPA safety limit) was found in the blood and follicular fluid of 18.7% and 8.3% of the women, respectively. Concerns about its possible adverse effects on the physiology of reproduction or fetal development cannot be ruled out. It should be noted that skin-lightening creams and dental amalgam were important contributors to mercury exposure. Such finding is alarming and priority for further studies are, urgently, needed.

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As with any procedure, there could be pain or other substantial risks involved. These concerns should be discussed with your health care provider prior to any treatment so that you have proper informed consent and understand that there are no guarantees to healing.

THE INFORMATION IN THIS WEBSITE IS OFFERED FOR GENERAL EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND DOES NOT IMPLY OR GIVE MEDICAL ADVICE. No Doctor/Patient relationship shall be deemed to have arisen simply by reading the information contained on these pages, and you should consult with your personal physician/care giver regarding your medical treatment before undergoing any sort of treatment or therapy.

Published on 05-11-2009
Authors: Iman Al-Saleha, Serdar Coskunb, Abdullah Mashhoura, Neptune Shinwaria, Inaam El-Dousha, Grisellhi Billedoa, Kamal Jaroudic, Abdulaziz Al-Shahranic, Maya Al-Kabrab and Gamal El Din Mohamedd
Source: International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health Volume 211, Issues 5-6, 1 October 2008, Pages 560-579