Are You Pregnant?
Prevent Lead Poisoning. Start Now.
Lead poisoning is caused by breathing or swallowing lead. Lead can pass from a mother to her unborn baby.
Too much lead in your body can
- Put you at risk for miscarriage.
- Cause your baby to be born too early or too small.
- Hurt your baby’s brain, kidneys, and nervous system.
- Cause your child to have learning or behavior problems.
Lead can be found in
- Paint and dust in older homes, especially dust from renovation or repairs.
- Candy, make up, glazed pots, and folk medicine made in other countries.
- Work like auto refinishing, construction, and plumbing.
- Soil and tap water.
Now is the time to keep your baby safe from lead poisoning. Here’s what you can do:
Watch out for lead in your home.
Most lead comes from paint in older homes. When old paint cracks and peels, it makes dangerous dust. The dust is so small you cannot see it. You can breathe in lead dust and not even know it.
Home repairs like sanding or scraping paint can make dangerous lead dust. You should not be in the house while someone is cleaning up after renovations, painting, or remodeling a room with lead paint.
Talk to your doctor.
Talk to your doctor about any medicines or vitamins you are taking. Some home remedies and dietary supplements may have lead in them. It is also important to tell your doctor about any cravings you have such as eating dirt or clay, because they may have lead in them.
Avoid certain jobs or hobbies.
Some jobs or hobbies involve lead exposure. Such work includes construction or home renovation/repair in older homes, and battery manufacturing or recycling. Also, avoid take-home lead dust if a household member works with lead. It is a good idea to have the household member change into clean clothing before coming home. Keep work shoes outside and wash all work clothes separately from the rest of the family.
Eat foods with calcium, iron, and vitamin C.
These foods may help protect you and your unborn baby.
- Calcium is in milk, yogurt, cheese, and green leafy vegetables like spinach.
- Iron is in lean red meat, beans, cereals, and spinach.
- Vitamin C is in oranges, green and red peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, and juices.
Use caution when eating candies, spices, and other foods that have been brought into the country by travelers, especially if they appear to be noncommercial products.
Store food properly.
Some dishes may contain lead. It is important to store and serve your food properly.
- Avoid using imported lead-glazed ceramic pottery produced in cottage industries.
- Avoid using pewter or brass containers or utensils to cook, serve, or store food.
- Avoid using leaded crystal to serve or store beverages.
- Do not use dishes that are chipped or cracked.
Guidelines for the Identification and Management of Lead Exposure in Pregnant and Lactating Women [PDF - 4.24 MB]
These guidelines, 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 of infants and children exposed to lead in utero.
This podcast addresses the highlights of the 2010 CDC Lead and Pregnancy Recommendation Report.
- Page last reviewed: June 15, 2013
- Page last updated: December 8, 2015
- Content source: National Center for Environmental Health, Division of Emergency and Environmental Health Services