The Effects of Lead Exposure During Pregnancy
Lead in your body can be passed to your unborn child during pregnancy or via breastfeeding. Lead exposure during pregnancy and can increase your risk for a miscarriage, cause a premature birth, and harm developing brains, nervous systems, kidneys, and other organs. Even low levels of lead have been shown to affect children’s IQ and ability to pay attention. The effects of lead exposure cannot be reversed.
Causes of Exposure
Pregnant people may have lead in their blood from either a direct exposure during pregnancy or from lead that is released during pregnancy from a prior exposure that was stored in their mineralizing tissues (bones and teeth). Consider speaking with your physician if you have a history of chronic exposure. Calcium supplementation may be useful to minimize the release of lead from bone stores and to minimize fetal lead exposure.
The CDC recommends that nursing parents with Blood Lead Levels (BLLs) less than 40 µg/dL breastfeed, however if the nursing parent’s BLLs are between 5 and 39 µg/dL, then the infants BLLs should be monitored more closely. It is recommended that nursing parents with BLLs greater than or equal to 40 µg/dL pump and discard their milk until their BLLs drop below 40 µg/dL.
Use a lead reducing filter or bottled water to make baby formula if you know there is lead in your drinking water. Foods rich in calcium, iron, and vitamin C can also help reduce the amount of lead absorbed by your unborn baby.
A blood lead test can help you find out if there is lead in your body. Talk to your provider to discuss whether you should get tested and possible options.