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Calcium during pregnancy reduces harmful blood lead levels
Date:9/9/2008

ANN ARBOR, Mich.---Pregnant women who take high levels of daily calcium supplements show a marked reduction in lead levels in their blood, suggesting calcium could play a critical role in reducing fetal and infant exposure.

A new study at the University of Michigan shows that women who take 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily have up to a 31 percent reduction in lead levels.

Women who used lead-glazed ceramics and those with high bone lead levels showed the largest reductions; the average reduction was about 11 percent, said Howard Hu, chair of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the School of Public Health.

Hu is the principal investigator of the study and one of the senior authors on the paper, which is available online in Environmental Health Perspectives, the official journal of the U.S. National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences. Hu, who is also affiliated with the University of Michigan School of Medicine, said this is the first known randomized study examining calcium supplementation on lead levels in pregnant women.

"We and others have previously shown that during pregnancy, mothers can transfer lead from their bones to their unborn -- with significant adverse consequences--making maternal bone lead stores a threat even if current environmental lead exposures are low," Hu said. "This study demonstrates that dietary calcium supplementation during pregnancy may constitute a low-cost and low-risk approach for reducing this threat."

Lead exposure is a great concern for pregnant and lactating women, especially in developing countries where lead exposures have been high until recently, and for women with occupational exposure. Developing fetuses and nursing babies are exposed to lead from either current exposures to mothers or from the mobilization of maternal skeletal lead stores accumulated from prior years of exposure. Bone lead can stay in the body for decades, so even with minim
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Contact: Laura Bailey
baileylm@umich.edu
734-764-1552
University of Michigan
Source:Eurekalert

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