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Lead Poisoning in Pregnancy: A Case Study with Implications for Midwives

Authors

  • Barbara Hackley CNM, MS,

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      215 Riverside Drive, Fairfield CT 06430.
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    • practices in a small community health center in the South Bronx and is an Assistant Professor for Yale University School of Nursing, Nurse-Midwifery Specialization.

  • Anne Katz-Jacobson CNM, MS

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    • practices in a small community health center in the South Bronx and is an Assistant Professor for Yale University School of Nursing, Nurse-Midwifery Specialization.


  • Anne Katz-Jacobson, CNM, MS, works as a staff midwife at North Central Bronx Hospital Midwifery Service and clinical faculty for Downstate Midwifery Educational Program.

215 Riverside Drive, Fairfield CT 06430.

Abstract

Lead poisoning remains a significant problem in the United States affecting the health of women and children. Although the damage is greatest at higher levels of accumulation, no level of lead has been found to be safe. Over the last 25 years, the blood level of lead thought to be associated with toxicity has dropped dramatically, from to 60 mcg/dL in 1960 to 10 mcg/dL today. Studies confirm that exposure to lead causes kidney damage, encephalopathy, and impaired cognitive function in children and in adults. Recent evidence indicates children with levels less than 10 mcg/dL may suffer from compromised development and intellectual performance later in life. This article discusses the case of a woman found to have lead poisoning during pregnancy. Environmental sources of lead, implications for the immediate and future health of the fetus and mother, and techniques clinicians can use in their practice to minimize the adverse effect of lead on their clients are reviewed.

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