NewsLocale.org, September 10, 2008
Women who consume high levels of daily calcium supplements
during pregnancy show a marked reduction in lead levels in their
blood, according to a new study, which suggests that calcium
could play a critical role in reducing fetal and infant
The study at the University of Michigan shows that women who
take 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily have up to a 31 percent
reduction in lead levels.
Women who used lead-glazed ceramics and those with high bone
lead levels showed the largest reductions; the average reduction
was about 11 percent, said Howard Hu, chair of the Department of
Environmental Health Sciences at the School of Public Health.
The study is available online in Environmental Health
Perspectives, the official journal of the U.S. National
Institute for Environmental Health Sciences.
Hu, who is also affiliated with the University of Michigan
School of Medicine, said this is the first known randomized
study examining calcium supplementation on lead levels in
"We and others have previously shown that during pregnancy,
mothers can transfer lead from their bones to their unborn --
with significant adverse consequences--making maternal bone lead
stores a threat even if current environmental lead exposures are
low," Hu said.
"This study demonstrates that dietary calcium supplementation
during pregnancy may constitute a low-cost and low-risk approach
for reducing this threat," the researcher added.
Lead exposure is a great concern for pregnant and lactating
women, especially in developing countries where lead exposures
have been high until recently, and for women with occupational
The study showed that reductions in blood lead levels were more
evident in the second trimester at 14 percent than in the third
trimester at 8 percent.
The most compliant group of women in the study (those who
consumed greater than 75 percent of the assigned 1,200 milligram
doses of calcium per day) showed a 24 percent decrease. omen in
the most compliant group who also reported using lead glazed
ceramics and had the highest bone lead levels saw the greatest
reduction of 31 percent.
Researchers analyzed 557 women recruited from the Mexican Social
Security Institute prenatal clinics, which treat the low to
moderate income population of Mexico City. ll were in their
first trimester; roughly half were assigned calcium and half a
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