Maternal Prenatal Lead Exposure Linked with Early Childhood High Blood Pressure in Offspring

Exposure to lead during pregnancy was linked with higher blood pressure in young children in a study presented at Kidney Week 2015. Exposure to lead during infancy did not seem to impact later blood pressure.

Alison Sanders, PhD, of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and her colleagues examined the effect of exposure to lead during pregnancy or in infancy on blood pressure in 4-year-old children. The analysis included 397 children and their mothers, with maternal blood samples previously collected at the 2nd trimester, 3rd trimester, and at delivery. Children’s blood samples were collected at birth, 1 year, and 2 years of age.

The team found that exposure to lead during pregnancy was tied to higher blood pressure in the 4-year-olds, but the effects of lead exposure on blood pressure did not show up during infancy.

“There is growing awareness that adult hypertension has origins in childhood. These findings support the role of lead exposure in the developmental origins of disease, possibly even adult hypertension,” said Dr. Sanders. “If so, the prenatal period may be a susceptible window for the development of mechanisms that regulate blood pressure and may be an appropriate timeframe during which interventions to prevent hypertension should occur.”

“Effect of Prenatal and Childhood Lead Exposure on Blood Pressure at 4 Years of Age” (Abstract SA-PO644).