Objective: To find out the effect of prenatal exposure to low lead from cosmetics on gestational age, premature rupture of the membrane and birth weight. Methods: The study was carried out in the mountainous Aseer region, Southwest of Saudi Arabia where the air is thought to be clean and free of lead pollution due to the absence of petroleum smelting and other heavy industries. The region is famous as a holiday resort for tourists from Arabia and the gulf countries. All 176 pregnant women included in the study were of singleton pregnancies of gestational age 27 weeks or more who attended the antenatal outpatient clinic of the main maternity hospital. On the day of delivery 4 milliliters of venous blood from each singleton parturient was placed in a heparinized non-silica containing tube and stored at -20°C prior to analysis. Results: Ninety-four (70.1%) women out of 134 had maternal blood lead concentration < 200 mg/L and only 40 women had > 200 mg/L. The mean difference in gestational age was 10.5 days, showing a non significant difference (P=0.152). Ninety-three women (72.7%) out of a total of 128 who had blood lead concentration <200 mg/L gave birth to infants weighing an average of 2.87 kg while 35 women who had blood lead level > 200 mg/L gave birth to infants weighing an average of 2.99 kg. The mean difference was 0.12 kg which is non-significant (P=0.261). Regarding premature rupture of the membrane a total of 127 women with maternal blood lead levels above 200 mg/L showed no significant differences (P=0.64). The Chi-square test of the relationship between the birth weight (kg) and the levels of blood lead below 150 mg/L was not significant while the relationship between the birth weight (kg) and the levels of blood lead above 200 mg/L resulted in very slight differences in the values of infants` birth weight. Conclusion: The detected low lead exposures from cosmetics does not produce statistically significant effects on the three pregnancy outcomes; gestational age, premature rupture of the membrane or birth weight. However, the importance of low lead exposure from the 100% lead sulfide eye cosmetic "kohl" is emphasized (JPMA 60:1027; 2010).
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