Background: Metal exposures could possibly affect allergic responses in pregnant women, although no studies have yet shown a clear relationship between the two, and such exposures might also affect the development of allergic diseases in children.
Methods: We investigated the relationship between metal concentrations in whole blood and immunoglobulin E (IgE; total and specific) in 14,408 pregnant women who participated in the Japan Environment and Children’s Study. The subjects submitted self-administered questionnaires, and blood samples were collected from them twice, specifically, during the first trimester and again during the second/third trimester. Concentrations of the metals Cd, Pb, Hg, Se, and Mn, as well as serum total and allergen-specific IgEs for egg white, house dust-mites (HDM), Japanese cedar pollen (JCP), animal dander, and moth, were measured. Allergen-specific IgE(s) were divided based on concentrations <0.35 or ≥0.35 UA/mL, and the metal levels were divided into quartiles.
Results: Multivariable logistic regression analysis showed that there was a significant negative correlation between HDM- and animal dander-specific IgEs and Hg and Mn concentrations. Conversely, there was a significant positive relationship between JCP-specific IgE and Hg and Se concentrations.
Conclusions: Metal exposures may be related to both increases and decreases in allergen-specific IgEs in pregnant women.