Lead levels in the blood during pregnancy that are too high can cause obesity in the child

Lead levels that are too high in the blood may be associated with increased chances of pregnant women having children who may be overweight or obese in childhood, according to a study published in the public domain of the JAMA network.

A team of researchers led by Xiaobin Wang, a researcher at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Baltimore School of Public Health, used data from 1,442 women and their children. Blood was taken from these women and lead levels were analyzed 24-72 hours after birth.

The children are then periodically analyzed for weight in childhood. When they were 8.1 years old on average, children born to mothers with higher levels of lead in their blood were four times more likely to be overweight or obese.

This risk was reduced if the same women with high levels of lead in their blood showed sufficient folic acid, again for the blood taken 24-72 hours after birth. According to researchers, folic acid can be useful for pregnant women who have too high levels of lead in their blood.