Lead Can Harm Your Baby Before Birth

Lead can pass from the mother to her unborn child before birth. Very high levels of lead can increase the risk of a miscarriage. It can also cause the baby to be born too small or too early.

Redoing a Room For Your Baby

Redoing a room for your baby can be dangerous. If your house was built before 1978 it could have lead paint in it. Do not sand, scrape, or burn lead paint. This could cause lead to get into your body and pass into your baby's body. Do not do any of the following:

  • getting the walls ready for repainting or wallpapering
  • scraping or stripping old paint from woodwork, furniture, and walls
  • taking down walls or doing other remodeling projects

If your house was built before 1978 and contains lead paint, do not do any of this work yourself. You should not be in your home while this work is being done. Return to your home only after it has been properly cleaned. For more information on how to clean after repair or renovation work, call the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at (800) 532-9571.

Other Sources of Lead

When you are pregnant, you and other family members should not use these items because they may contain lead:

  • cosmetics from other countries like Kohl and Surma
  • some folk medicines from other countries
  • arts and crafts supplies like solder, paints, enamels, inks, and glazes for making stained glass, jewelry, and ceramic

Eat the Right Foods

Eat foods high in calcium, vitamin C, and iron. These foods help prevent lead from getting into your blood and harming your unborn baby.

  • Milk, cheese, and yogurt are high in calcium.
  • Beef, raisins, peanut butter, and green leafy vegetables are high in iron.
  • Fruits such as orange, grapefruit, and tomatoes are high in vitamin C.

Take your prenatal vitamins every day. Do not use bone meal or dolomite as calcium supplements (they may contain lead).

Don'ts

  • Don't remove paint yourself.
  • Don't stay in your home when repairs or renovations are being done.
  • Don't go home after repair or renovation work has been done until after your home has been properly cleaned.
  • Don't use hot tap water for cooking, drinking, or making baby formula.

Do's

  • Be aware of lead paint hazards.
  • Consider having a licensed lead inspector test your home for lead dust after repair or renovation work has been done and before you move back into it.
  • Make sure your home is properly cleaned before you move back into it.
  • If you own your home, consider having it inspected and deleaded before your baby is born.
  • Let cold water run for about one minute before using it for drinking or cooking.
  • Learn more about lead at your doctor's office, clinic, or local lead program.

Make Your Home a Safer Place

After your baby is born, the Massachusetts Lead Law requires the property owner to have the lead hazards removed or covered, or put under interim control (this applies only if the house was built before 1978). Have your home tested for lead by a licensed lead inspector. If you rent, ask the owner about having the home tested for lead. Or, call your local board of health for an inspection. The lead hazards must be corrected according to Massachusetts guidelines.


This information is provided by the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program within the Department of Public Health.