The relationship of blood lead levels to obstetric outcome

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1982 Jan 1;142(1):40-6. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9378(16)32282-7.


Lead represents a significant environmental hazard to pregnant women and their offspring. Exposure to high environmental levels of lead has been associated with spontaneous abortion, premature rupture of fetal membranes (PROM), and preterm delivery. The relationship between lower exposures and obstetric complications is unknown. The concentration of lead in the blood was measured in 635 specimens of umbilical cord blood collected at delivery. No relationship was found between concentrations of lead in cord blood and the incidence of PROM, preterm delivery, preeclampsia, or meconium staining. Maternal and infant capillary blood was collected 24 hours post partum from 154 of these deliveries. The concentrations of lead in the blood did not vary significantly among cord, infant, and maternal samples, and the three measurements were highly correlated. Levels of zinc protoporphyrin (ZnP) were increased in cord blood as compared with mothers' blood, but no concentration-response relationships between the ratio of cord ZnP to maternal ZnP and lead were found.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood / analysis*
  • Fetal Membranes, Premature Rupture / blood
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lead / blood*
  • Obstetric Labor Complications / blood*
  • Obstetric Labor, Premature / blood
  • Pregnancy
  • Protoporphyrins / blood


  • Protoporphyrins
  • zinc protoporphyrin
  • Lead