Dietary calcium supplementation to lower blood lead levels in pregnancy and lactation

J Nutr Biochem. 2007 Mar;18(3):172-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2006.12.007.


Pregnancy and lactation are states known to be accompanied by physiologically up regulated bone resorption in response to the calcium demands of the developing fetus and nursing infant. The role of calcium supplements in altering maternal responses to fetal demand for calcium is not fully understood. Exposure to the toxicant lead is known to pose a major hazard to fetal neurodevelopment and growth. Since >95% of maternal lead is stored in the bone, mobilization of cumulative maternal lead stores into the circulation represents an endogenous source of exposure, which may pose a significant hazard for the fetus and infant. Maternal dietary calcium supplementation has been associated with reductions in lead levels in both animal and human studies when administered during pregnancy and lactation. Therefore, supplementation of the maternal diet with calcium may represent an important secondary prevention strategy aimed not only at reducing circulating levels of lead in the mother but also at reducing lead exposure to the developing fetus and nursing infant.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Resorption / physiopathology
  • Bone and Bones / drug effects
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism
  • Calcium, Dietary / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Fetus / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Lactation / blood*
  • Lead / blood*
  • Lead / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / drug effects
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / genetics


  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Receptors, Calcitriol
  • Lead