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Environ Health Perspect. 1993 Oct;101(5):418-21.

Increased risk of proteinuria among a cohort of lead-exposed pregnant women.

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  • 1Division of Epidemiology, Columbia School of Public Health, New York, NY 10032.


Long-term exposure to high concentrations of lead results in renal dysfunction. During a prospective study of environmental lead and pregnancy outcomes in 1502 women residing in two towns in Yugoslavia, we explored whether moderate exposure to lead results in increased rates of proteinuria. The geometric mean blood lead concentrations (BPb) were 17.1 and 5.1 micrograms/dl in the smelter and nonexposed towns, respectively. Increases in BPb were associated with increased odds ratios for both trace and > or = 1+ proteinuria, measured using a urinary dipstick. Comparing the women in the upper 10th percentile of exposure to those in the lowest 10th percentile, the adjusted odds ratio for > or = 1+ proteinuria was 4.5 (95% CI 1.5, 13.6). Similarly, the adjusted odds ratio for trace proteinuria was 2.3 (95% CI 1.3, 4.1). Similar to other studies showing associations between chronic exposure to lead and renal dysfunction, our data suggest that long-term exposure to environmental lead may be associated with proteinuria.

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