Resources For Pregnant Women

Pregnant Women and Lead Poisoning

A woman can breathe in or swallow lead before or during her pregnancy. Lead that gets into the body can be stored in a person’s bones for years. When a woman becomes pregnant, the lead that may be getting into her body and the lead stored in her bones gets into the blood stream and can be passed to the baby.

  • Lead readily crosses the placenta, which means the baby can get lead from the mother’s body
  • Lead poisoning can cause high blood pressure while pregnant
  • Lead poisoning can cause miscarriage
  • Lead poisoning can cause babies to be born too soon or too small

Problems Caused by Lead Poisoning

Children with lead in their bodies can suffer:

  • Damage to the brain and nervous system
  • Behavior and learning problems, such as hyperactivity
  • Slowed growth
  • Hearing problems
  • Headaches

Symptoms of Lead Poisoning in Children

Often there are no symptoms of lead poisoning. Sometimes the symptoms are the same as those of more common illnesses like the flu. Early signs of lead poisoning are:

  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Learning difficulties
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation

Because there are no clear symptoms, it is important that a child’s blood lead level is checked each year until he or she is 6 years old. The Heavy Metal Project checks to make sure the babies of mothers in the program have a lead test by the time they are one year old.

Did You Know?

  • Renters may request a lead inspection with or without the owner’s consent
  • Under Missouri law, you can not be evicted because you requested a lead inspection
  • Owners will be notified about the inspection and the results

Quick Points

  • Just a few particles of dust from lead-based paint are enough to poison a child and the effects could last a lifetime
  • Childhood lead poisoning may lead to learning and behavior problems
  • Lead poisoning still affects hundreds of St. Louis children today
  • Buildings built before 1978 are much more likely to have lead-based paint
  • Lead can be found in paint and dust, water, and soil in the home, as well as in some toys, cosmetics, and jewelry
  • There is no safe blood lead level

Ask your OB/GYN for a referral to The Heavy Metal Project or Contact Lead Safe St. Louis for tips to prevent your child from having contact with lead.