Information for Pregnant People

Pregnant women

What you need to know about lead

Lead can hurt pregnant people and their developing fetuses. It can damage the brain, kidneys, nerves and other parts of the body. It can make it hard to get pregnant, and cause miscarriage or stillbirth. Lead can affect children’s behavior and make it harder for them to learn.

Lead can be stored in a persons’s body for years, and then passed from the pregnant person to baby. A product can contain lead, even if it is not listed as an ingredient.

Some pregnant people have the urge to eat nonfood items. This behavior is called pica.

What you can do

If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, ask your health care provider about a blood lead test.

If you have ever had a blood lead test result of 5 micrograms per deciliter or above, your new baby should get a lead test before leaving the hospital.

Resist the urge to eat nonfood items. Chalk, dirt, and pottery can contain lead.

Avoid products that may contain lead

These include items imported from the Middle East, Latin America, South Asia, and China:

  • Spices, including turmeric.
  • Many types of candy.
  • Skin creams, including Yisaoguang Yaogua, Hondan and Thanaka.
  • Cosmetics like Kohl, also known as surma or kajal.
  • Lead-glazed pottery. Do not use for food preparation or serving.
  • Costume jewelry, including gold or silver plated.
  • Herbal and Ayurvedic medicines.

Talk to your doctor about a lead test if you:

  • Use imported spices and Ayurvedic medicines.
  • Recently moved to the United States from another country.
  • If someone you live with works with lead.
  • Renovated or remodeled a pre-1978 home; sanded and scraped paint.
  • Know your drinking water has lead.
  • Have urges to and eat dirt, chalk, pottery, plaster, or paint chips
  • Have lead-risk hobbies, such as target shooting, casting fishing sinkers or bullets, stained glass making or pottery making
  • Live near lead mines, smelters, battery recycling facilities or other facilities that use lead
  • Have a history of lead levels of 5 micrograms per deciliter or above