Am J Perinatol 2021; 38(S 01): e26-e32
DOI: 10.1055/s-0040-1705135
Original Article

Umbilical Cord Blood Lead Level Disparities between Flint and Detroit

Mona Hanna-Attisha
1  Pediatric Residency Program, Hurley Children's Hospital at Hurley Medical Center, Flint, Michigan
2  Department of Pediatrics and Human Development, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, Flint, Michigan
,
Ashweena Gonuguntla
2  Department of Pediatrics and Human Development, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, Flint, Michigan
3  Newborn Nursery, Hurley Children's Hospital at Hurley Medical Center, Flint, Michigan
,
Nadine Peart
1  Pediatric Residency Program, Hurley Children's Hospital at Hurley Medical Center, Flint, Michigan
2  Department of Pediatrics and Human Development, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, Flint, Michigan
,
Jenny LaChance
4  Research, Hurley Medical Center, Flint, Michigan
5  Office of Medical Education Research and Development, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, East Lansing, Michigan
,
D. Kay Taylor
4  Research, Hurley Medical Center, Flint, Michigan
5  Office of Medical Education Research and Development, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, East Lansing, Michigan
,
Sanjay Chawla
6  Department of Pediatrics, Hutzel Women's Hospital and Children's Hospital of Michigan, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan
› Author Affiliations
Funding This research was partially supported by the Dr. & Mrs. Mathias Pediatric Research and Education Fund, Hurley Medical Center.

Abstract

Objective The lead-in-water impact of the Flint water crisis on the youngest and most neurodevelopmentally vulnerable population was largely unknown. The objective of this study was to investigate and compare cord blood lead levels (CBLLs) in newborns in Flint, Michigan, after the Flint water crisis, to a group of Detroit newborns.

Study Design Mothers of 99 Flint newborns were surveyed about potential lead exposures. These neonates were born after the recognition of population-wide lead-in-water contamination. CBLLs were measured and maternal–fetal metrics were reviewed. CBLLs and maternal–fetal metrics were then compared with those of a retrospective cohort of 116 Detroit newborns who previously shared the same water source. Analysis involved descriptive statistics, independent t-test, and χ 2 analysis.

Results CBLLs greater than or equal to 1 μg/dL (0.05 μmol/L) were more prevalent among Flint newborns (14%), as compared with Detroit newborns (2%; p = 0.001). This was a sevenfold disparity between Flint and Detroit newborns. No statistically significant differences were found in birth weight, head circumference, small for gestational age status, gestational age, or preterm status among the two groups.

Conclusion The Flint water crisis potentially exposed newborns to lead in utero, implicating maternal–fetal outcomes and future health and development. Primary prevention efforts, including identification and mitigation of lead exposure before conception and during pregnancy, are needed. New environmental exposure detection methods and long-term neurodevelopmental follow-up will complement the findings of this study.



Publication History

Received: 11 October 2019

Accepted: 22 January 2020

Publication Date:
06 March 2020 (online)

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