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Does lead paint exposure through dust affect baby in pregnancy?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2003
Answered : 1566 Questions
I am 34 weeks pregnant and recently have had renovations start on my home. The home was built in 1901. I am concerned about the possibility of lead paint being present. How quickly would lead paint exposure through dust affect my baby?
Posted Sun, 17 Aug 2014 in Pregnancy
Answered by Dr. Vaishalee Punj 47 minutes later
Brief Answer:
Household paint has little effect during pregnancy

Detailed Answer:
Thanks for your query.

Painting and renovating can expose one to chemicals in it. Three types of paint are latex, oil, and enamel.

Lead and mercury are present in oil paints. The recommendation is to avoid exposure to oil paints during pregnancy, to children and even adults.

But one reassuring fact is that lead paints were used in houses built before 1978. So the chances that lead paint was used in your house is minimal. Best would be to remove yourself from the location and let someone else do the work.

For your specific question, lead poisoning usually builds up slowly and will show effect prolonged exposure over the period of years. Acute lead poisoning can also occur in which the symptoms present within a matter of days. Thus time taken to affect baby can be as less as a few hours to weeks.

Hope it helps.

Dr Vaishalee

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Does lead paint exposure through dust affect baby in pregnancy? 9 minutes later
I am not concerned about new paint being used but there have been holes drilled into the walls which generated a lot of dust. I am concerned about the potential of lead paint being present under the layers of newer paint. What effects of inhaling that dust might have on my unborn baby?
Answered by Dr. Vaishalee Punj 14 hours later
Brief Answer:
Firstly it will have symptoms in you

Detailed Answer:
Hi again

So you have already been exposed to the paint dust. I hope it is not going on now.

Now I am not sure how much dust you inhaled at that time. Though one time exposure should not harm the baby. Ongoing inhalation is more dangerous.

Anyways it will first produce side effects in you. You may want to look for the following symptoms in yourself like abdominal pain and cramping, constipation, difficulty sleeping, headache, irritability, reduced sensations, etc. If you developed these symptoms after exposure, it means that toxic amounts of lead may have gotten distributed into your body. In such a case it would have penetrated the placenta and distributed in baby's body. Unborn baby being more vulnerable, can develop symptoms like growth retardation during fetal stage. After birth, he may develop low IQ, behavior or attention problems, kidney damage, hearing problems, etc. These effects happen at high doses during exposure.

You can get your blood checked for lead levels. Blood lead levels over 10 mcg/dl would be of concern. You should talk to your doctor about it.

Since your house was build in 1901, it is a very old house. That paint must be having lead in it. You will need to take precautions that the baby does not come in the contact with old paint or its dust in any form. You may want to get your house inspected for any such risk. You should also stay away from that house until it is confirmed to be safe to stay there.

Hope it helps. Wishing you and your baby good health.

Dr Vaishalee
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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