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NEW STUDY: Maternal Blood Lead Levels Linked to Low Birthweight In Newborns

We are excited that this study is finally available and published, as we first learned about it when we interviewed Dr. Rabito for our film MisLEAD: America’s Secret Epidemic in 2012. Below is the abstract – click the image below for the full PDF. Thank you for reading this important information.

charlieNote from our Executive Director, Tamara Rubin: Three years after my own children were poisoned, we had our fourth son, Charlie. By this time I knew to get a blood lead test during pregnancy (something that was never offered during my previous pregnancies.) My Blood Lead Level while I was pregnant was 1.0 micrograms per deciliter. Shortly after delivery my blood lead level was 1.1. Charlie was the smallest of all of our babies (and our only baby born after our acute exposure that caused the poisoning of his two older brothers.) Big brother Cole was the biggest at 8 lbs 7 oz, and Charlie was just 5 lbs 10 oz. While – of course  – anecdotal, with other factors to consider as well… I have always felt my personal experience with Charlie (following our acute lead exposure) is an example proving Dr. Rabito’s (and her team’s) conclusions  – below.


Data are lacking on the effect of low level prenatal lead exposure. We examined the change in blood lead from the second trimester until delivery and the association between maternal and cord blood lead and birth outcomes in 98 participants of the CANDLE birth cohort study. Mixed effects models were constructed to assess blood lead change over pregnancy and regression models were used to explore the relationship with cord blood lead, characteristics effecting maternal lead, birth weight and gestational age. Overall, the geometric mean maternal blood level was 0.43 microgram/dL. Maternal blood lead at each time point was predictive of cord blood lead level. A 0.1 microgram/dL increase in second trimester lead was associated with lower birth weight and pre-term birth. Maternal blood lead below 1 microgram/dL behaves in a manner similar to lead at higher levels and is associated with a small decrease in birth weight and gestational age.


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