Most families understand the risks lead poisoning has on their children - often leading to significant brain and nervous system damage. However, lead poisoning can impact your unborn child if the mother is exposed to lead during pregnancy.
If a pregnant woman ingests lead through breathing or swallowing, it will pass from the mother to the baby - impacting both people's health including: risk of miscarriage, baby is born prematurely or too small, hurts the baby's brain, kidneys and nervous system, and cause future learn or behavior problems.
It's incredibly important for pregnant women to know what factors puts them at risk for lead poisoning and what they can do about it.
What puts me at risk?
According to the National Capital Poison Center, pregnant women should be tested for lead if they have any of these risk factors:
- Recent arrival to the U.S. from a country with a lot of environmental lead
- Living near a source of lead, for example lead mines or battery recycling plants
- Working in a lead industry or living with someone who does
- Having a lead-based hobby, for example stained glass
- Using lead-based pottery for food or drinks
- Using lead-based cosmetics, such as imported kohl or sarma
- Using spices, herbs, or medicines that could be contaminated with lead
- Repairing or renovating a home with lead paint
- Living in a home with lead in the water pipes
- Having a history of lead poisoning; lead is stored in bone for decades and is released into the blood during pregnancy
- Living with someone with a high lead level
Even pregnant women with only one risk factor can have lead poisoning, so every pregnant women should check with a health care professional about lead risks and if blood testing is needed.