Expectant Moms: Avoid the Heavy Metal

Lead inspections of your home may reduce poisoning risk

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) If you're expecting, it's worth investing in a lead inspection of your home. A recent study revealed that inspections before a baby's birth reduce the likelihood they'll get lead poisoning.

High levels of lead in the blood, often absorbed through the environment such as through lead-based paints, can lead to lead poisoning, which can cause neurodevelopment disabilities and behavioral problems in children.

"Have your home inspected for lead if you're expecting."

Dr. Daniel Berg of Family Care Health Centers in Saint Louis, MO led the study hoping to find ways to reduce the number of children poisoned by lead. The number of children afflicted with lead poisoning in the St. Louis area is four times the national average.

Berg and his colleagues identified 492 pregnant women in the the St. Louis area to participate in the study.

Certified lead inspectors from the City of St. Louis inspected the homes of 152 of these patients by inspecting the paint in the homes and use x-ray fluoroscopy and dust swipes.

Homes identified as having lead hazards were cleaned and had their windows replaced where appropriate.

When the children were one year old, the lead levels in their blood was tested for 60 of the toddlers whose homes had been inspected before their birth.

Berg's team then compared these children's lab results with those of children of the same age living in the same neighborhoods.

Children whose homes were inspected had an average blood lead level of 2.7 mcg/dL compared to 3.73 mcg/dL in their age-matched neighbors.

None of the children whose homes had been inspected had blood levels at 10 mcg/dL or more, but 4.2 percent of the other children did.

"Screening the houses of pregnant women is an effective way to reduce the average blood lead level and number of children poisoned in a high risk population," the authors concluded.

"Prenatal home lead hazard screening compares favorably to other prenatal and neonatal screening tests routinely performed in the medical system," they wrote.

The study was presented February 10 at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's annual meeting, The Pregnancy Meeting, in Dallas, TX. No information was available regarding the study's funding or financial disclosures of the authors.

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Last Updated:
February 14, 2012