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.

"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 July 31, 2014 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 July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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