, Volume 185, Issue 5, pp 3795-3801
Date: 23 Aug 2012

Blood Pb Levels in pregnant Nigerian women in Abakaliki, South-Eastern Nigeria

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Environmental lead (Pb) exposure and toxicity have been recognised as public health problems of global importance, affecting both the developed and developing nations. In this work, blood Pb of pregnant women that were not exposed to lead by their occupation (n = 349), with mean ± SD age of 27.0 ± 4.8 years and gestational age of 21.8 ± 3.1 weeks at recruitment were determined using atomic absorption spectrophotometer. The results showed that 309 (88.5 %) of the women had a mean ± SD blood Pb of 40.0 ± 16.5 μg/dl, which is higher than the current US Centre for Disease Prevention and Control action limit (>10 μg/dl). The observed high prevalence of elevated blood Pb levels may be related to maternal low socioeconomic status. Health education is, therefore, urgently needed to sensitise the general public and the policy makers of the level of Pb exposure in Abakaliki environment and the inherent health implications. In addition to mandatory environmental lead monitoring, blood Pb screening for would-be mother is recommended, and those whose blood Pb are found elevated should be appropriately treated.