Lead is dangerous for a developing fetus, and it can be found in the blood and bones of pregnant women who have been exposed to lead hazards. Both you and your baby can be harmed by lead.
Once lead is in the body, it can cross the placental barrier and affect the fetus. Immediate effects can include premature delivery and low birth weight, as well as an increased risk of miscarriage or stillbirth. Lead can also be passed to a newborn baby through breastfeeding.
If you are pregnant, or thinking of becoming pregnant, talk to your doctor to learn how to prevent lead poisoning.
What You Can Do
These are some things you can do to help prevent lead poisoning while pregnant.
- Eat healthy, well-balanced meals rich in iron and calcium. Pregnant women need 2000 mg of calcium and 30 mg of iron per day through diet and/or supplements.
- Some examples of foods high in these nutrients: milk, meat, cereal, beans, peas, spinach, cheese, cooked greens
- Wash hands well, and wash them often (especially before eating).
- Keep your house clean.
- Wash floors and window sills often
- Use a damp cloth for dusting
- Keep regular prenatal doctor visits.
- Protect yourself if your job or hobbies expose you to lead.
- Leave your shoes at the door.
Behaviors to Avoid
Avoiding these things will help to prevent lead poisoning while pregnant.
- Avoid peeling, chipping paint.
- Do not sand paint.
- Avoid remodeling and lead paint removal.
- Do not use a heat gun to remove old paint.
- Never sweep or dust with a dry cloth.
- Never put non-food items in your mouth (sometimes pregnant women may have an urge to eat things that are not food). If you have the urge to eat non-food items, discuss this with your doctor.
- Some examples: corn starch, crushed pottery, dirt
- To download a booklet describing lead in pregnancy, click the blue "Download" link on the right side of this page.
- Prenatal Risk Assessment for Lead
- Identification and Management of Lead Exposure in Pregnant and Lactating Women