Projects in reproductive health

Heavy metals as biomarkers of ambient exposure and neonatal and pediatric outcomes

Our team led by Isabella Karakis investigated the link between concentrations of cadmium (Cd), aluminum (Al), Nickel (Ni) and arsenic (As) in maternal urine and neonatal outcomes. Investigation of 140 urine samples was summarized in two publications (Karakis et al, 2014 and Karakis et al, 2015). We found that 26.4 % of the women were exposed to at least one of the 4 metals. Al and As were the most prevalent metals in urine, and these in turn were associated with household exposures, as reported in the questionnaire. For instance, Al was linked to having a wood burning stove and/or cooking over an open fire. The possible impact on health was specific to a metal: Al – was associated with minor anomalies, and As – with preterm birth and lower weight.


  • In another investigation led by Isabella Karakis (Karakis et al, 2021) we investigated the link between 25 metals in urine samples of 111 women and the pediatric morbidity of the offspring during their first 6 years of life. The study showed an adverse association of  perinatal exposure to metals with pediatric morbidity, specifically, asthma cardiovascular morbidity and obesity.