Pregnant Women

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

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

Elevated levels of 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 icon[PDF – 2 MB] and en Español  pdf icon[PDF – 2 MB])

Guidelines for the Identification and Management of Lead Exposure in Pregnant and Lactating Women pdf icon[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 mothers 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.