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Dietary Patterns Are Not Consistently Associated with Variability in Blood Lead Concentrations in Pregnant British Women

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article numbernxz023
Pages (from-to)1027-1036
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number6
Early online date10 Apr 2019
DateAccepted/In press - 30 Jan 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print - 10 Apr 2019
DatePublished (current) - Jun 2019


During pregnancy lead crosses the placenta freely and can have adverse effects on the fetus, with the potential for life-long impact on the child. Identification of dietary patterns and food groups in relation to measures of lead status could provide a more useful alternative to a nutrient-specific advice to minimise fetal lead exposure.

The objective was to evaluate whether dietary patterns and food groups are associated with blood lead concentration (B-Pb) in pregnancy.
Design: Whole blood samples were collected at a median of 11 wk gestation (IQR 9¬¬–13 weeks) from women enrolled in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) birth cohort study, and analysed for lead. Dietary pattern scores were derived from principal components analysis of a food frequency questionnaire (32 wk gestation). Associations dietary pattern scores (quartiles), and of food groups (frequency of consumption), with the likelihood of B-Pb ≥5 µg/dL were identified with adjusted logistic regression (n=2,167 complete cases).

There was a negative association between the confectionery dietary pattern and the likelihood of B-Pb ≥5 µg/dL (OR: 0.62; 95% CI 0.41, 0.94) in an adjusted model. There were no associations with other dietary patterns. There was a positive association between the food group ‘all leafy green and green vegetables’ and the likelihood of B-Pb ≥5 µg/dL (OR 1.45; 1.04, 2.01). Conversely, the food group ‘cakes and biscuits’ was negatively associated (OR 0.63; 0.43, 0.93). After multiple imputation, there was a positive association of the healthy diet pattern and no association of the confectionary pattern.
Conclusion: We found limited evidence of an association between women’s typical diet and B-Pb during pregnancy. Our findings do not indicate need to revise dietary guidance for pregnant women, who are advised to adopt a healthy diet in pregnancy, with a variety of foods consumed in moderation.

    Research areas

  • ALSPAC, pregnancy, dietary patterns, lead, prenatal, blood lead

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