UCSB Science Line
Sponge Spicules Nerve Cells Galaxy Abalone Shell Nickel Succinate X-ray Lens Lupine
UCSB Science Line
How it Works
Ask a Question
Search Topics
Our Scientists
Science Links
Contact Information
How does lead poisoning affect the development of babies both while they are in the womb and after birth? Thanks!
Question Date: 2009-11-17
Answer 1:

Lead is a serious health problem. It is a "heavy metal" and can cause a lot of problems. One is brain damage. Even after a child gets treatment to remove the lead from their bodies, the brain damage cannot be reversed. Children can absorb about 4 times more lead than adults can, so they have a greater risk.

Lead can stay in our bones years after we are exposed. When a woman is pregnant, some of her bone is broken down to provide calcium to form the bones of her fetus. This means that the fetus can be contaminated with lead years after their mother was exposed. This can cause miscarriages, under weight babies, or babies with brain damage. If the pregnant woman gets plenty of calcium, her bones are less likely to be broken down, so lead poisoning is less likely.Lead can also be passed on through breast milk. Calcium supplements can also help prevent passing on lead this way.

Your local health department can let you know about lead testing that can keep all the people in your household from being exposed to lead.

Thanks for asking,

Click Here to return to the search form.

University of California, Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory National Science Foundation
This program is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and UCSB School-University Partnerships
Copyright © 2020 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Terms of Use