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  QUESTION: Pb - trans-placental transport & uptake by foetal neurons & osteoblasts. 10 May 2004, Queensland Australia

TO whom it may concern,

I have written to you before concerning a medical assignment I was researching for and thank you so much for replying. I was back in your site today and I was looking through the fact sheets when I came across this passage.

"Lead is poisonous. During pregnancy, lead in the motherís blood can pass freely to her unborn child. High blood lead levels can affect the unborn childís developing brain and cause developmental problems. If a mother has been exposed to lead in the past it may have been stored in her bones and can be released, along with calcium, during pregnancy."

I was wondering where you got this information from, and if it was in any more detail than stated above.

My topics have changed slightly since I wrote to you last

They are

  1. Transport of lead across the placenta and
  2. Cellular uptake of lead by fetal cells (neurons and osteoblasts in particular)

I have not had much luck so far in finding any other information but if I do find some (and hopefully I will soon otherwise my assignment might be a bit of a disaster) I will surely forward it on to you.

Thank you again for your time, I know you are very busy

ANSWER: 11 May 2004

Dear Madam,

www.bio.usyd.edu.au/NERVE/99report/publications.htm lists a 1999 publication by The Nerve Research Foundation & The Institute of Clinical Neurosciences, Sydney University, but only the following reference details are on the website so it may not refer to foetal neurons:

Pamphlett R, Danscher G. A low selenium diet increases heavy metal uptake by motor neurons. Australian and New Zealand Society for Neuropathology Scientific Meeting, Hobart, Australia.
I have searched for an hour on the web for documents including lead and foetal/fetal neurons or fetal/foetal osteoblasts and that was all I found!
A search of the Lead Advisory Service Library produced the following attached articles, also found at:

[CHAPTER 7 from the book PLANNING FOR A HEALTHY BABY, By Belinda Barnes & Suzanne Gail Bradley, Foresight Association UK, circa 1996 [PAGES 82-92] Problems in the Twentieth Century: Toxic Metals is not web-published - see attachment Info Pack 6 & 26 Foresight ch Toxic Metals.doc].

And on the issue of the interactions of calcium and lead crossing the placenta, see:

And now I'm exhausted and must sleep! My son has band practice at 7:30 in the morning!! Eeek.

Yours Sincerely
Elizabeth O'Brien

Updated 2012

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