Exposure of reproductive-age women to toxic trace elements warrants attention because of their negative effects. This study aimed to investigate the levels of arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), mercury (Hg), chromium (Cr), and lead (Pb) in the blood of 837 Taiwanese childbearing-age women and establish the correlation between their dietary pattern and heavy metal concentration. The concentrations of Cd and Pb were significantly higher in nonpregnant women than in pregnant women (Cd: 2.41 µg/L vs. 2.12 µg/L; Pb: 0.83 µg/dL vs. 0.73 µg/dL), whereas the concentration of Cr was significantly lower in nonpregnant women than in pregnant women (Cr: 0.98 µg/L vs. 1.05 µg/L). Otherwise, no significant differences in As (9.02 µg/L vs. 9.51 µg/L) and Hg (3.71 µg/L vs. 3.79 µg/L) were found between the nonpregnant and pregnant women. Overall, the blood metal concentrations of Cd and Hg showed a decreasing trend in the different pregnancy stages. The levels of As and Hg were highly correlated with seafood intake. Finally, lifestyle habits, such as burning incense usage and Chinese herb intake may contribute to metal accumulation in maternal or reproductive-age women. Preventive risk communication and educational strategies should be applied to these subgroups in view of food safety and public health concern. Graphical Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Water Science and Technology
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis