Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Lead exposure may affect blood pressure during pregnancy

Date:
February 6, 2011
Source:
George Washington University
Summary:
Even minute amounts of lead may take a toll on pregnant women, according to a new study. Although the levels of lead in the women's blood remained far below thresholds set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, women carrying more lead had significantly higher blood pressure.

Even minute amounts of lead may take a toll on pregnant women, according to a study published by Lynn Goldman, M.D., M.S., M.P.H., Dean of George Washington University's School of Public Health and Health Services in D.C., and colleagues, in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. Although the levels of lead in the women's blood remained far below thresholds set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, women carrying more lead had significantly higher blood pressure.

Related Articles


"We didn't expect to see effects at such low levels of lead exposure," says Goldman, "but in fact we found a strong effect." If confirmed, this would indicate that pregnant women may be as sensitive to lead toxicity as young children.

Blood pressure is slightly higher during pregnancy, child labor, and delivery as the heart pumps harder. But prolonged high blood pressure during pregnancy (pregnancy-induced hypertension) can lead to complications called preeclampsia and then eclampsia. This potentially lethal condition also can predispose women to a heart attack in their future. While any increase in blood pressure during pregnancy is worrisome, the study did not find an association between lead and pregnancy-induced hypertension or preeclampsia.

The CDC advises to take action to reduce exposures when pregnant women or children have a blood lead level of 5 micrograms (ug) per deciliter (dL) or higher. However, very few studies have assessed the effect of lower levels of lead in pregnant women. Goldman feels that the recent study suggests that there are cardiovascular effects of lead in pregnant women at levels well below 5 ug/dL.

Of the 285 pregnant women monitored by the team at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, about 25% had a lead level higher than about 1 ug/dL of umbilical cord blood; it was these women who on average had a 6.9 mmHg increase in systolic pressure and a 4.4 mmHg increase in diastolic pressure. To arrive at these results, the team statistically controlled for other factors related to raised blood pressure, including ethnicity, obesity, anemia, household income and smoking.

"Hopefully our study will contribute to efforts to determine what a safe level of lead is for adults," said Ellen Wells, PhD, first author of the study and postdoctoral scholar at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences. The best way to reduce lead in women's blood is to prevent exposure, not only during but also prior to pregnancy. "Because lead is stored in bones for many years," Wells says, "even childhood exposure could impact lead levels in pregnancy."

Limiting levels of lead permitted in adults at the workplace might be a good place to start. "The occupational standard right now is a level of 40 um/dL," says Goldman, "and we see blood pressure changes at a level of 2."

Her words come at a pivotal time. On December 17, President Obama was asked to sign a bill into law that would reduce exposure to lead by tightening restrictions on lead in drinking water plumbing. The bill follows a series of investigations finding significant levels of lead in water in schools and in households in New York City and Washington, D.C. Although lead exposure has steadily declined in the U.S. since the nineties, primarily because of bans on lead in gasoline and drinking water regulations, this study suggests lead restrictions should remain a public health priority.


Editor's Note: Dr. Lynn Goldman's web page is available at: http://mha.gwu.edu/faculty/lynn-r-goldman/


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by George Washington University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ellen M. Wells, Ana Navas-Acien, Julie B. Herbstman, Benjamin J. Apelberg, Ellen K. Silbergeld, Kathleen L. Caldwell, Robert L. Jones, Rolf U. Halden, Frank R. Witter, Lynn R. Goldman. Low Level Lead Exposure and Elevations in Blood Pressure During Pregnancy. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2011; DOI: 10.1289/ehp.1002666

Cite This Page:

George Washington University. "Lead exposure may affect blood pressure during pregnancy." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 February 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110205142846.htm>.
George Washington University. (2011, February 6). Lead exposure may affect blood pressure during pregnancy. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110205142846.htm
George Washington University. "Lead exposure may affect blood pressure during pregnancy." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110205142846.htm (accessed February 28, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could a $34 Smartphone Device Improve HIV Diagnosis in Africa?

Could a $34 Smartphone Device Improve HIV Diagnosis in Africa?

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Feb. 27, 2015) A dongle that plugs into a Smartphone mimics a lab-based blood test for HIV and syphilis and can detect the diseases in 15 minutes, say researchers. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor Says Head Transplants Possible Within Two Years

Doctor Says Head Transplants Possible Within Two Years

Buzz60 (Feb. 27, 2015) An Italian doctor is saying he could stick someone&apos;s head onto someone else&apos;s body. Patrick Jones (@Patrick_E_Jones) reports. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Your Dentist Could Help Screen You For Diabetes

How Your Dentist Could Help Screen You For Diabetes

Newsy (Feb. 27, 2015) A new study from researchers at New York University suggests dentists could soon use blood samples taken from patients&apos; mouths to test for diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Tips to Makeover Your Health

The Best Tips to Makeover Your Health

Buzz60 (Feb. 27, 2015) If you&apos;re looking to boost your health this season, there are a few quick and easy steps to prompt you for success. Krystin Goodwin (@Krystingoodwin) has the best tips to give your health a makeover this spring! Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins