Lead exposure among females of childbearing age--United States, 2004.MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2007 Apr 27; 56(16):397-400.MM
For centuries, exposure to high concentrations of lead has been known to pose health hazards, and evidence is mounting regarding adverse health effects from moderate- and low-level blood lead concentrations. Public health authorities use higher levels to define blood lead levels (BLLs) of concern in nonpregnant females (> or =25 microg/dL) compared with children (> or =10 microg/dL) and a lower level (> or =5 microg/dL) for pregnant females. This difference in levels for nonpregnant and pregnant females has raised concern because of the recognition that a proportion of nonpregnant females with BLLs > or =5 microg/dL will become pregnant and potentially expose their infants to a risk for adverse health effects from lead. Maternal and fetal BLLs are nearly identical because lead crosses the placenta unencumbered. This report summarizes 2004 surveillance data regarding elevated BLLs among females of childbearing age (i.e., aged 16-44 years) in 37 states participating in CDC's Adult Blood Lead Epidemiology and Surveillance (ABLES) program. The results indicated that rates of elevated BLLs ranged from 0.06 per 100,000 females of childbearing age at BLLs of > or =40 microg/dL to 10.9 per 100,000 females at BLLs of > or =5 microg/dL. Primary and secondary prevention of lead exposure among females of childbearing age is needed to avert neurobehavioral and cognitive deficits in their offspring.