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Environ Res. 2003 Jun;92(2):139-51.

Release of lead from bone in pregnancy and lactation.

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Department of Geology, University of Texas at Dallas, Mail Drop FO21, P.O. Box 830688, Richardson, TX 75083-0688, USA.


Concentrations and isotope ratios of lead in blood, urine, 24-h duplicate diets, and hand wipes were measured for 12 women from the second trimester of pregnancy until at least 8 months after delivery. Six bottle fed and six breast fed their infants. One bottle feeder fell pregnant for a second time, as did a breast feeder, and each was followed semicontinuously for totals of 44 and 54 months, respectively. Bone resorption rather than dietary absorption controls changes in blood lead, but in pregnancy the resorption of trabecular and cortical bone are decoupled. In early pregnancy, only trabecular bone (presumably of low lead content) is resorbed, causing blood leads to fall more than expected from hemodilution alone. In late pregnancy, the sites of resorption move to cortical bone of higher lead content and blood leads rise. In bottle feeders, the cortical bone contribution ceases immediately after delivery, but any tendency for blood leads to fall may be compensated by the effect of hemoconcentration produced by the postpartum loss of plasma volume. In lactation, the whole skeleton undergoes resorption and the blood leads of nursing mothers continue to rise, reaching a maximum 6-8 months after delivery. Blood leads fall from pregnancy to pregnancy, implying that the greatest risk of lead toxicity lies with first pregnancies.

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