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Lead Information for Pregnant Women

It is important that every mother-to-be know the facts about lead. Ingestion or exposure to lead can adversely affect your pregnancy and your child’s future health.

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Tips for Reducing Risk and Exposure if You Are Pregnant or Nursing

Follow these suggestions to reduce lead exposure if you are pregnant, plan on becoming pregnant, or are nursing:


  • If your home was built before 1978, there is a good chance lead-based paint was used at some point during the home’s history. Have your home tested for lead and learn about potential lead hazards.
  • If you suspect you have lead paint in your home, make sure all paint is well-maintained and painted over with new paint. Always hire a professional to safely remove it.
  • Stay out of areas in a home where renovations are occurring because many renovation procedures can generate lead dust (i.e., sanding and scraping the paint). Ensure the room under renovation can be sealed off to reduce circulation of lead dust. If this is not possible, consider staying at another location until the repairs have been completed and the area has been thoroughly cleaned. You may wish to hire an independent lead inspector to verify that the home is free of lead dust hazards.
  • Evaluate your water supply and plumbing system. Old plumbing might be soldered or lined with lead. Have your water tested for levels of lead. Find information about your local water supply.
  • Use only cold water for cooking and drinking, since hot water absorbs more lead than cold water.
  • If you haven't used your water for a few hours let the water run for 30 to 60 seconds to flush the lines prior to use.


  • Eat a healthy diet rich in calcium, iron, zinc and vitamin C. Adequate calcium intake decreases the amount of lead released from your bones.
  • Do not store food and liquids in lead crystal or lead-glazed pottery or porcelain.
  • Avoid folk medicines.
  • Evaluate your cosmetics and avoid any that might contain lead. Kohl and Surma are examples of cosmetics that often contain lead. Read more about cosmetics at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's cosmetic safety page.


  • Avoid crafts or hobbies that could expose you to lead, such as pottery, stained glass, refinishing furniture, or fishing.
  • Read the labels on arts and crafts supplies carefully to identify materials that may contain lead.
  • If you or a member of your family works in an industry with high lead exposure, he or she can bring lead dust home on clothes, hair, shoes and skin, passing the dust to others in the family. Shower and change clothes before coming home, and launder work clothes separately.

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