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Study tells why exposure to metals can disrupt pregnancy 

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Posted: Monday, December 21, 2020. 3:50 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Women are told to stay away from contact with metals such as nickel, arsenic, cobalt and lead during pregnancy, but a long-term study conducted by Rutgers University finds that exposure may disrupt a pregnant woman’s hormones and put her baby at risk, according to Asian News International (ANI) via Caribbean News

The issue is that some types of metals may disrupt the endocrine system, responsible for regulation of bodily hormones. This in turn leads to preterm birth and low birth weight in babies, and preeclampsia in women, and increases risk for growth-related and non-communicable diseases such as obesity and breast cancer. 

Researchers studied blood and urine samples from 815 women enrolled in the Puerto Rico Test site for Exploring Contamination Threats (PROTECT) study established in 2010. 

The cohort is studying environmental exposures in pregnant women and their children around the northern karst zone, which include urban and mountainous rural areas of Puerto Rico. 

The extent of the hormonal disruption may depend on when in the pregnancy the mother was exposed. 

The American commonwealth’s women are more greatly exposed to metals, leading to nearly 12 percent more preterm births than the continental U.S. and more adverse birth outcome. Exacerbating the problem is repeated extreme weather events such as hurricanes, flooding and drought. 

According to the study authors, future research should investigate how changes in markers of an endocrine function affect birth and other health outcomes. Future studies also should look at essential metals in relation to maternal and fetal health, and metals as mixtures in relation to markers of endocrine function. 

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