Pregnant? Why You Should Know About Lead

When you're pregnant, it's just as important for you to stay away from lead as it is to protect your children from it. Exposure to high levels of lead can cause problems in your pregnancy and pass to your baby. Lead exposure can to lead to high blood pressure, miscarriage, preterm delivery, and low birth weight. It can also cause learning and behavior problems in your baby.

There are things you can do to keep yourself and your baby safe from lead. Start by learning if your home has lead in it. Many older homes were painted with lead paint. A lead inspection of your home can tell whether your house has lead paint. A lead water test can tell if your water has lead in it. Call your local health department for information. If you rent, ask your landlord if your home has lead in it.

If you find that your home has lead in it, take these steps while you're pregnant. They can help reduce the risks for you and your baby:

  • Don’t sand or scrape paint from walls, woodwork, or furniture. You could inhale the harmful lead dust.

  • If you remodel your home, hire a professional to remove the lead from your home. You’ll have to move out until the work is done. Make sure everything is cleaned well before you go back to your home.

  • Use cold water for drinking and cooking. Lead levels are higher in hot water and in water that has been sitting. Some pipes have lead. This can get into your water supply. Run cold water for 15 to 30 seconds before using it. This can help reduce lead levels. 

  • Get plenty of iron, calcium, and vitamin C. These nutrients help prevent lead from being absorbed into your body. You can get iron by eating meat, beans, fish, spinach, and some cereals. Milk and cheese are high in calcium. Oranges, grapefruits, and tomatoes are good sources of vitamin C.

  • Don’t use arts and crafts supplies that may contain lead. These include solder, some glazes for making pottery and jewelry, inks, paints, and enamels.

Talk with your healthcare provider about how to lower your risk of lead exposure.

Online Medical Reviewer: Bowers, Nancy, RN, BSN, MPHFoley, Maryann, RN, BSN

Date Last Reviewed: 4/12/2016

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