Toxicological impact of heavy metals on the placenta: A literature review

Mantakas Xenofon1, Sofoudis Chrisostomos2, Koumousidis Antonios2, Sinha Prabha2

1Laboratory of Forensic Science, University hospital of Heraklion, Crete, Greece
2Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Conquest hospital, East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, United Kingdom

Correspondence: Koumousidis Antonios, Conquest Hospital, 46 Oast House Close St Leonards on sea, East Sussex, TN377UY, United Kingdom, E – mail:


The purpose of this study is the review of the literature regarding the placental damage after exposure to heavy metals. The role of the feto-placental unit is particularly important during pregnancy and replaces the function of the not fully formed organs of the fetus, like the lungs, kidneys, the gastrointestinal and the endocrine system. Moreover, it protects the fetus from infections, toxins, pharmaceutical agents, drugs as well as chemical substances. The examination of the placenta provides relevant information for the endometrium as well as it contributes significantly in the investigations of the perinatal deaths, the intrauterine growth retardation, the malformations, the infections and the maternal diseases effects on the fetal development. The size of the clinical problem associates with the development of the placenta function so intensely, that the histological aspect of the human placenta should be taken a lot into consideration. A thorough examination is often underestimated, although it can yield invaluable role regarding the fetal development. Most people during their lifetime are exposed to a large number of chemical substances
which may be hazardous to the reproduction system. Many chemicals have been identified in laboratory studies to create reproductive problems, but also problems in the function of placenta, the fetal development and even cause perinatal death.

Keywords: placenta, heavy metals, toxicity, complications

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