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  QUESTION: Lead and Pregnancy? - Fact sheets.  05 Jul 2006, County Wexford  Ireland

I have had hair mineral analyses done at regular intervals over the last number of years (with a view to having optimum mineral status to conceive). About 2 and a half years ago the lead levels in the samples began to rise (which coincided with late pregnancy). I breastfed my baby wholly and then partly for about 20 months up to Feb this year. In Feb, my hair analysis gave lead levels of 4, four months later in June my hair analysis shows lead levels of 8. I cannot understand why the lead levels continue to rise, despite mineral/vitamin supplementation and following the guidelines for reducing lead levels. I would love to have a second child but with these lead levels would be afraid to even try for one. Also age is not on my side, so I need a solution fast. Can you give me any help? Thank you. Any connection? A year and a half ago an x-ray of my knees revealed early changes of arthritis.
ANSWER: 06 Jul 2006

Dear ine,

It is recommended that you do a blood test since hair analysis is less reliable than blood test. The recommended blood lead level is to be less than 10 g/dL. However, it's always better to be as low as possible. Regarding the breastfeeding, it is the best way to feed the baby since the lead content is filtered as they pass through the blood. The lead level in breast milk can go as far as 5% of the mother's blood lead level. Therefore, if the mother has a lead level of 10 g/dL, the amount of lead that is transferred through the breast milk can be as high as 5% of 10 g/dL. Breastfeeding is the best option to feed the baby because it has the important nutrients for the baby.
Regarding your increasing hair lead level, again, I recommend you to take a blood lead test. There are many sources of lead and lead-paint is one of the major sources. For information on lead source, you may check
At the moment we do not know if there is a connection between lead and arthritis. However, you might want to check
This link states that arthralgia (type of joint pain) has a relation to lead poisoning. We do not have any information in relation to arthritis but in 2004 we received an email from Dr Edward Puzas from University of Rochester about lead and arthritis. He stated:

"QUESTION: "Does lead affect arthritis?"
ANSWER: Yes. In fact, we have some research ongoing in this area.

1) Lead exposure can induce a gout-like syndrome in joints.
2) Lead leached from bullets in and around joints has been shown to induce an osteoarthritis.
3) The veterinary literature has examples of arthritis in horses and cows that are lead-poisoned.
4) Lead dramatically affects articular chondrocytes in cell culture."

In addition to this information, I will also send you an info pack about reproductive health in relation to lead. I hope this information may help you.
Erik Wibowo
(Research Assistant of Global Lead Advice and Support Service)

Subject: Fw: Info Pack 6 - Reproductive Health and Lead
Dear Mrs Cassidy,
Wishing you all good luck and a very happy motherhood and a healthy child.

The components of our Info Pack 6 on Reproductive Health and Lead which are available in electronic format are as follows along with the attachments:

Renovation and Pregnancy - a Toxic Mix
Lead and Pregnancy
Pregnant or Planning a Pregnancy?
Breastfeeding And Lead - What do Mothers Need to Know?

"Problems In The Twentieth Century : Toxic Metals - Information To Help You Safeguard your Baby by Avoiding Toxins - And Why you Need To Do So - Chapter 7 of Planning For A Healthy Baby, p.82-92 "

Yours Sincerely
Erik Wibowo
Research Assistant

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