From the moment a woman discovers she is pregnant, her future child’s development takes center stage. Pre-natal health becomes paramount. But if she lives in a home or apartment constructed before 1978, she unwittingly might be subjecting her unborn child to lead poisoning.

Lead exists in every neighborhood, not just the inner city. It is found most commonly in paint and dust created by disturbing that paint in older homes, as well as in soil and tap water. If a pregnant woman breathes in or swallows the lead detritus, she can pass the toxic substance on to her unborn child. Unfortunately, just opening and closing a window can send lead dust flying through the air, easily inhaled by anyone in the vicinity.

Lead in the body of a pregnant woman can:
• Put her at risk for miscarriage;
• Cause premature birth and low birth weight;
• Adversely affect the fetus’s brain, kidneys, and nervous system;
• Cause learning or behavior problems, including autism, brain damage, lowered IQ, and ADD/ADHD, after the child is born.

Here’s an action plan that every pregnant woman living in a pre-1978 built dwelling should take:
• Have a blood test to determine if there is lead in your body;
• Have your home tested for lead by an environmental testing company. For any renovation, even a simple painting job, test your home before renovation to pinpoint where lead lurks, and after renovation to be sure all traces of lead are gone.
• Leave your home when it is cleaned, painted or remodeled.
• Talk to your doctor if you have the urge to eat soil or clay, a condition called pica. If you have pica, it is imperative to have the soil around your home tested by an environmental testing company.