Pregnant Women

Lead can pass from a parent to their unborn baby. The good news is that lead exposure is preventable. Now is the time to keep your baby safe from lead poisoning.

If an adult has been exposed to lead over a long time or has had high levels of lead in their blood in the past, the lead stored in their bones can be released into the blood during pregnancy. This means that the level of lead in their blood can start to increase during pregnancy. If a person is exposed to lead during their pregnancy, their developing baby can also be exposed.

Lead in the blood during pregnancy can:

  • Increase risk for miscarriage
  • Cause the baby to be born too early or too small
  • Hurt the baby’s brain, kidneys, and nervous system
  • Cause the child to have learning or behavior problems

If you are pregnant and think you may have been exposed to lead, talk to your healthcare provider about getting a blood lead test. A blood test is the best and most readily available way to determine if you have been exposed to lead. Based on your blood lead test result, your doctor may recommend finding and removing lead from your environment, eating a diet high in iron and calcium, and scheduling follow-up blood lead testing.

More Information

Are You Pregnant? – information on lead poisoning prevention for pregnant women. (Printable PDFs in English [PDF – 2 MB] and en Español  [PDF – 2 MB])

Guidelines for the Identification and Management of Lead Exposure in Pregnant and Lactating Women [PDF – 3.66 MB]

  • These recommendations for health care providers and public health professionals are based on scientific data and practical considerations regarding preventing lead exposure during pregnancy, assessment and blood lead testing during pregnancy, medical and environmental management to reduce fetal exposure, breastfeeding, and follow up for infants exposed to lead.

Breastfeeding and Environmental Exposures to Lead – information and guidance on how parents can protect their child from lead exposure during pregnancy and lactation.

Parents and Caregivers – information and guidance on how to protect yourself and your family from the effects of lead exposure.