MotherToBaby Utah's Nurse Al Romeo stopped by KUTV to answer questions moms might have about lead in pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Lead is a natural element found in the environment. Too much lead in the body can harm baby’s brain and cause low birth weight, learning disabilities, and developmental delays. It can be found in the ground, old water pipes, gasoline, hobby and industrial products, costume jewelry, and some cosmetics, usually from outside of the U.S. Houses built before 1978 might have lead in the paint, so care needs to be taken when remodeling and sanding those surfaces. Lead dust can get in the body through the lungs. Lead can also be ingested if it is in the soil, water, or other contaminated foods. For people who work with lead in industry, making their own bullets, or going to the shooting range often, carefully removing those clothes with lead dust and washing them separately will help reduce how much lead gets into the house and to the rest of the family.
Moms who think they might have been exposed can get their blood tested in pregnancy or their baby’s blood tested when they are breastfeeding. Generally, lead levels under 5 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dl) is not a concern. If levels are between 5 and 40 mcg/dl, finding the source of the lead exposure is necessary. Levels over 40 mcg/dl need to be managed by the doctor and other experts.
If you have questions about lead exposure in pregnancy and breastfeeding, visit MotherToBaby.Utah.gov or call 801-328-2229.