Impacts of Elevated Prenatal Blood Lead on Trace Element Status and Pregnancy Outcomes in Occupationally Non-exposed Women

EI Ugwuja, B Ejikeme, JA Obuna


Background: Lead toxicity has been reported to affect hematopoietic, nervous, reproductive, cardiovascular and urinary tract systems. Many investigators have so far studied the effects of high blood lead levels on pregnancy outcomes.

Objective: To investigate the effects of elevated maternal blood lead during pregnancy on some trace elements and pregnancy outcomes.

Methods: Blood lead and plasma copper, iron and zinc were measured in 349 pregnant women with a mean±SD age of 27.0±4.8 years, and gestational age of 21.8±3.1 weeks, at recruitment using atomic absorption spectrophotometer. Maternal and fetal outcomes were recorded during follow-up and at delivery, respectively. A blood lead level of ≥10 µg/dL was considered high.

Results: Women with elevated blood lead had significantly higher plasma copper and iron and lower plasma zinc than women with low blood lead level (<10 µg/dL). Blood lead level correlated with maternal hemoglobin concentration (r=‑0.1054, p=0.051) and total white blood cell count (r=0.1045, p=0.053). Hypertension, malaria and low birth weight were significantly higher (p<0.05) in women with elevated blood lead than in those with low blood lead level.

Conclusion: Complications of pregnancy may be induced by a high blood lead level possibly through the alterations in trace element metabolism.


Lead poisoning; Nutritional status; Fetus; Pre-eclampsia; Diabetes, gestational; Stillbirth

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 pISSN: 2008-6520
 eISSN: 2008-6814

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