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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter May 27, 2019

Cadmium toxicity: effects on human reproduction and fertility

  • Sunil Kumar EMAIL logo and Anupama Sharma



Cadmium (Cd) is a non-essential toxic heavy metal, an environmental toxicant, and toxic at a low concentration, and it has no known beneficial role in the human body. Its exposure induces various health impairments including hostile reproductive health.


The present review discusses the information on exposure to Cd and human reproductive health impairments including pregnancy or its outcome with respect to environmental and occupational exposure.


The present review provides current information on the reproductive toxic potential of Cd in humans. The data were collected using various websites and consulting books, reports, etc. We have included recent data which were published from 2000 onward in this review.


Cd exposure affects human male reproductive organs/system and deteriorates spermatogenesis, semen quality especially sperm motility and hormonal synthesis/release. Based on experimental and human studies, it also impairs female reproduction and reproductive hormonal balance and affects menstrual cycles. Based on the literature, it might be concluded that exposure to Cd at low doses has adverse effects on both human male and female reproduction and affects pregnancy or its outcome. Further, maternal prenatal Cd exposure might have a differential effect on male and female offspring especially affecting more female offspring. Hence, efforts must be made to prevent exposure to Cd.


Cd affects both male and female reproduction, impairs hormone synthesis/regulation and deteriorates pregnancy rate or its outcome even at lower doses.

Corresponding author: Dr. Sunil Kumar, MSc, PhD, Retd, Former, Director-in-Charge, Scientist ‘G’, NIOH, A-10, Radhey Kunj Apartment, B/H Circuit House, Shahi Baugh, Ahmedabad, 380004, India; and ICMR – National Institute of Occupational Health, Ahmedabad, 380016, India, Phone: 09426395738, (R) 011-079-22864939, E-mail:


SK is thankful to the Indian Council of Medical Research, Department of Science and Technology and Department of Bio-Technology, New Delhi, Government of India, for the financial assistance in the form of adhoc research grants on various aspects of reproductive health. No additional funding was received for this study. The authors are grateful to the anonymous reviewers and the editor for their valuable suggestions for the improvement of the MS.

  1. Research funding: No funding was received for this study.

  2. Conflict of interest: No conflict of interest.

  3. Informed consent: Not applicable.

  4. Ethical approval: The paper does not require ethical approval.


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Received: 2019-03-12
Accepted: 2019-04-22
Published Online: 2019-05-27
Published in Print: 2019-12-18

©2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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