Preeclampsia and blood lead (and other metals) in Lubumbashi, DR Congo

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Among parturient women in Lubumbashi, blood lead concentrations [geometric means (25th–75th percentiles)] were higher among 40 women with preeclampsia [6.66 μg/dL (5.16–79.4)] than among 39 control women matched for age and gestation duration [5.08 μg/dL (4.27–6.30)]. Blood lead exceeded 5 μg/dL in 33 (83%) preeclamptic women and 17 (44%) control women [odds ratio 6.1 (95%CI 2.1–17.1)]. In another study, we found high levels of lead in surface dust collected in front of homes in Lubumbashi (36/127 samples exceeding 120 μg lead/g dust). Our findings support the conclusions of a systematic review that increased blood lead level increases the likelihood of preeclampsia. Moreover, our study indicates that, as in other urban areas in Africa, exposure to lead is unacceptably high among pregnant women in Lubumbashi. Preventive measures are needed to protect mothers and children from the serious adverse effects of lead exposure.

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