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QUESTION: How can I find out if I have lead-provoked DNA-damage which might pass to my children? 04/09/12 USA, USA - United States of America

Hello, when I was teenager I took a printing class, we studied lead plate printing, my teacher shared a story about him accidentally acquiring lead poisoning while working with an old printing press, and as result his was advised not to father children. A few years later I learned my grandfather got lead poisoning during the Great Depression, while working for a plastics factory in St. Louis Missouri. He fathered 7 children, 2 of them were born after the lead poisoning. He was very ill, his hair and finger nail fall out. This happened in the 1930's and my mom was born in 1942, in the 1950's my grandfather died from Leukemia. I was born in 1969 with heart problems VSD/ASD and mitral valve prolapse. My mom and my uncle seem to have the most health problems out of the 7 children. I was wondering if my DNA could be damaged enough to cause concern if I were to father children? There seems to be limited information on the web about it. I was never motivated to have children out of fear of them having a bad heart. My sister has a murmur that was discovered after she had her first child, and now my niece has a heart condition that wasn't discovered until took sports in school at age 13. Thank you..

ANSWER: Sep 4 2012

Dear Garold,

 I hope you find the responses to your enquiry (see series of emails below) useful. Apologies that it took me a while to find time to send it out to my network.

 Kind regards

 Elizabeth O’Brien


Howard Hu, From: LEAD Group Sent: Monday, September 03, 2012 9:52 PM

To: Howard Hu Cc: Ellen Silbergeld; Conrad Krebs

Subject: How can a US enquirer find out if he has lead-provoked DNA-damage which might pass to his children?

Dear Professor Hu,

 when I sent the email at the end (below), I received two replies (see below), one of which, from Dr Conrad Krebs, suggested that I contact you directly. I hope you can help me by sending a reply that I can forward to the enquirer.

 Your time is much appreciated, and your work much-admired.

 Elizabeth O’Brien


REPLY ONE From: Conrad Krebs Sent: Monday, September 03, 2012 11:43 PM

To: LEAD Group Subject: Query; RE: followup

 Dear Elizabeth,         

I have made some progress on your query. I see two questions. One is whether the cardiac defects described can ever be inherited and the answer is yes. The specific genes have been identified (see Braunwald's Heart Disease, 8th ed, page 118). Your correspondent would have to consult someone with more expertise in genetics than I possess in order to learn whether in fact he is a proband of interest and what the odds are that he could pass on a defective gene to offspring. If he does have the defective gene the second question is whether his family's genes were damaged because his grandfather had lead poisoning. Although I don't know if that can ever be answered it does get at the larger question of whether lead poisoning has the ability to damage genetic material. For an answer to that I located Dr Howard Hu, a name you may remember from the lead poisoning literature. Dr. Hu is now at the University of Toronto. He requested that you contact him directly with your questions. His particulars are... Howard Hu


From: Silbergeld, Ellen Sent: Tuesday, September 04, 2012 12:05 AM 

Subject: Your query There is no support for your question re heritable genetic damage from lead. You should be more careful. I have a lot of respect for your work

 From: Howard Hu Sent: Tuesday, September 04, 2012 12:59 PM

To: LEAD Group Cc: Ellen Silbergeld ; Conrad Krebs Subject: RE: How can a US enquirer find out if he has lead-provoked DNA-damage which might pass to his children?

 Here's what I sent Mark Pokras, who I suspect was also in the loop and sent me a note:

 A few epi studies have suggested the possibility of transgenerational effects exerted through fathers, but the evidence is very slim. My team (and others) are conducting research to determine if such effects could be exerted through lead impacts on epigenetic programming, but so far, there's no evidence that would inform the observations noted above.

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