Rutgers study of cadmium in pregnant women yields crucial insights into the placenta’s role in regulating toxin exposure. As with many toxins, exposure to the toxic metal cadmium during pregnancy can adversely impact fetal development. Now, researchers at the Rutgers School of Public Health think they’re beginning to understand how the metal inflicts its damage: by disrupting placental hormones that regulate pregnancy physiology.

Unlike other toxins, relatively little cadmium crosses the placenta to directly impact the fetus. Instead, the placenta concentrates cadmium in its tissue at rates of up to six times that found in umbilical cord serum. “We already know a lot about cadmium and its detrimental impacts on fetal health, such as low birthweight,” said Zorimar Rivera-Núñez, an assistant professor in the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology and lead author of the study published in the journal Toxics. “What we don’t really understand is how the placenta regulates exposure to cadmium and other toxicants. That’s what this research was trying to ascertain.” To read the full story.