Revisiting mobilisation of skeletal lead during pregnancy based on monthly sampling and cord/maternal blood lead relationships confirm placental transfer of lead

Brian Gulson*, Karen Mizon, Michael Korsch, Alan Taylor

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    19 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Lead (Pb) can be released from the maternal skeleton during pregnancy and lactation and transferred to the infant. Most support for this hypothesis comes from blood Pb (PbB) studies involving limited sampling during pregnancy, the maximum usually being five samplings, including at delivery. We provide longitudinal data for PbB concentrations and Pb isotopic ratios for three cohorts of pregnant females (n = 31), two of which are based on monthly sampling and the other on quarterly sampling. We also provide data for samples collected post-partum. The data are compared with changes observed in a matched, by country and age, non-pregnant control cohort (n = 5). The monthly data illustrate the variability between subjects, which is also apparent when the data are compared on a trimester basis. Mixed model analyses showed that, in the third trimester, the mean PbB level was significantly lower for women (n = 10) who took a calcium (Ca) supplement (PbB 1.6 µg/dL) than those whose Ca intake was low (low-Ca cohort; n = 15; PbB 2.5 µg/dL) because low Ca means more mobilisation is required for homoeostasis so that more Pb was mobilised from the skeleton. For women who took the supplement, post-partum PbB levels were significantly higher than those in the other periods (2.7 vs 1.4–1.6 µg/dL). For women in the low-Ca cohort, PbB levels were higher at post-partum than in pre-pregnancy and in the first and second trimesters (3.1 vs 1.8 µg/dL), while the levels in the third trimester were higher than those in the first and second trimesters. Importantly, the increase in PbB during gestation was delayed until the third trimester in the Ca-supplemented cohort compared with the low-Ca cohort. Regression analysis showed that the changes over trimester were very similar for PbB and the 206Pb/204Pb ratio providing convincing evidence for extra mobilisation of Pb from the maternal skeleton during pregnancy and lactation. Isotopic ratios in the cord blood samples were similar to those in the maternal blood samples taken prior to parturition with an R2 0.94 for the migrant subjects and R2 0.74 for Australian subjects for 206Pb/204Pb ratios, supporting the concept of placental transfer of mobilised skeletal stores of Pb.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)805-816
    Number of pages12
    JournalArchives of Toxicology
    Volume90
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016

    Keywords

    • lead
    • blood
    • skeletal lead
    • pregnancy
    • post-partum
    • isotopic ratios
    • cord blood
    • calcium
    • supplementation

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