The association of lead exposure during pregnancy and childhood anthropometry in the Mexican PROGRESS cohort

Environ Res. 2017 Jan:152:226-232. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2016.10.014. Epub 2016 Oct 28.


Lead exposure during pregnancy remains a public health problem with potential lifelong impacts on children's growth and development. Mexico is unique in that stunting and obesity are both major public health concerns in children. This situation might be exacerbated by lead exposure which remains more common in Mexico than in the United States due in part to the use of lead glazed pottery in food preparation and storage. Our objective is to determine how lead exposure during pregnancy is associated with children's growth parameters, including height, weight, body mass index and percentage body fat measured between ages 4-6 years old in a Mexico City pregnancy cohort. Blood lead was collected in the 2nd and 3rd trimester of pregnancy as well as at delivery. Bone lead was assessed in mothers as a long term exposure biomarker. We performed multivariable linear regression analyses to assess the association between each of these lead exposure biomarkers and child anthropometry. We found a significant negative association between maternal 3rd trimester blood lead concentration and offspring height for age (β-0.10; 95% CI -0.19, -0.01), and a negative association between maternal 3rd trimester blood lead concentration and weight for age (β-0.11; 95% CI -0.22,-0.003). Our results in this Mexican population add to previous findings of an association of lead and decreased stature and weight in early childhood. Ongoing follow-up and longitudinal analyses may help elucidate how this impacts growth trajectory and other children's health outcomes.

Keywords: Anthropometry; Child; Lead; Pregnancy; Stunting.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anthropometry*
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood
  • Environmental Pollutants / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lead / blood
  • Lead / metabolism*
  • Maternal Exposure*
  • Mexico
  • Pregnancy
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Lead