Research: LEE and colleagues,

Listed in Issue 120


LEE and colleagues, Dept. of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824-1224, USA, have investigated the levels of lead in the blood of American women.


The concentration of lead in the blood of an infant is strongly affected by maternal blood lead recycling. This study aimed to identify sociodemographic, lifestyle, and nutritional determinants for blood lead levels of women of reproductive age in the USA.


4,394 women (20-49 years old) included in the most recent National Health and Nutritional Survey (NHANES III) were studied. Sociodemographic, lifestyle and nutritional determinants for the levels of lead in the blood were identified.


The mean lead level was 1.78 micrograms per 100 millilitres of blood in these women of reproductive age. The lead concentrations were inversely associated with poverty income ratio and education level, haematocrit, intake of thiamine, and serum levels of folate. They were positively associated with Black and Hispanic ethnicity, living in urban areas or the Northeast region, age, alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking, serum protoporphyrin, and intake of pyridoxine, iron, and folate. Women in the lowest 10% of vitamin C in the blood had significantly higher lead levels than the rest.


Infants born to women who drink, smoke, and eat a poor diet have a higher risk of lead poisoning than others. The supplementation of B vitamins, vitamin C, and folate may be helpful.


Lee MG, Chun OK, Song WO. Determinants of the blood lead level of US women of reproductive age. Journal of the American College of Nutrition 24 (1): 1-9, Feb 2005.

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