Trace Minerals, Heavy Metals, and Preeclampsia: Findings from the Boston Birth Cohort

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Background: Preeclampsia is a leading contributor to maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality. In mice experiments, manganese (Mn) and selenium (Se) are protective whereas cadmium (Cd) is promotive for preeclampsia. Epidemiologic findings on these chemical elements have been inconsistent. To confirm experimental findings in mice, we examined associations of trace minerals (Mn and Se) and heavy metals (Cd, lead [Pb], and mercury [Hg]) with preeclampsia in a birth cohort. Methods and Results: A total of 1274 women from the Boston Birth Cohort (enrolled since 1998) had complete data on the exposures and outcome. We measured Mn, Se, Cd, Pb, and Hg from red blood cells collected within 24 to 72 hours after delivery. We ascertained preeclampsia diagnosis from medical records. We used Poisson regression with robust variance models to estimate prevalence ratios (PRs) and 95% CIs. A total of 115 (9.0%) women developed preeclampsia. We observed evidence of a dose–response trend for Mn (P for trend<0.001) and to some extent for Cd (P for trend=0.009) quintiles. After multivariable adjustment, a 1 SD increment in Mn was associated with 32% lower risk of developing preeclampsia (PR=0.68; 95% CI, 0.54–0.86), whereas a 1 SD increment in Cd was associated with 15% higher risk of preeclampsia (PR=1.15; 95% CI, 0.98–1.36). Null associations were observed for Se, Pb, and Hg. Conclusions: Findings from our cohort, consistent with evidence from mice experiments and human studies, indicate that women with lower blood concentration of Mn or higher Cd are more likely to develop preeclampsia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere012436
JournalJournal of the American Heart Association
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 20 2019


  • cadmium
  • epidemiology
  • manganese
  • metal
  • preeclampsia/pregnancy
  • trace mineral

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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