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Can Lead Affect My Unborn Baby?

I’m worried because we recently moved into an older home that may have some lead paint and I just found out that I’m pregnant. Should I be concerned about exposing my baby to lead?
Susan

If a pregnant woman is exposed to lead, the lead in her blood can easily cross the placenta to the fetus. As a result, her baby might be born early or at a low birth weight. Even low levels of lead in a baby can cause behavior and learning problems. High lead blood levels also increase a pregnant woman’s risk of miscarriage.

If your home was built before 1978, it could have lead-based paint. Lead in paint can cause problems when it is chipping or peeling. Home renovation, repairs, and painting projects can release lead dust into the air. Some homes may also have lead pipes or copper pipes with lead solder that lets lead get into the tap water.

Have your older home tested for lead. Get a professional to test your water, the dust in your home, the soil outside, and the paint in and around your home.

Taking your prenatal vitamin and eating a balanced diet that is rich in iron, calcium, and vitamins C, D, and E can help lower lead in the body.

If you think you were exposed to lead, talk to your doctor about getting a blood lead test.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: July 2021