Objectives To examine the relationship between occupation and blood lead levels in pregnant women of Durango, Mexico.
Method A cross sectional study was conducted with 299 pregnant women. Information on occupation, risk factors and sociodemographic data was collected by means of a structured questionnaire. Blood lead concentration was tested by graphite furnace spectrometry. Women were divided into three groups according to occupation: working in places with potential source of lead exposure (exposed group), working in places without lead exposure (control group I), and non-working women (control group II). The X2 test was used to assess statistical differences between the groups, and one way ANOVA was applied for comparisons. Logistic regression was performed using blood lead < 5 µg/dL or ≥ 5 µg/dL as dependent variable, and ajdusted for jurisdiction, income, gestational age, and abortions.
Results Only 24(8%) women worked in places with potential source of lead exposure, 47(15.7%) worked in other places, and 228(76.3%) did not have a remunerated job. Mean blood lead concentration in the study sample was 2.79 µg/dL. However, blood lead ≥ 5 µg/dL accounted for 25% of exposed women, 2.1% of control group I, and 6% of control group II (X2 = 13.04; p .001). Mean blood lead level was 4.24 µg/dL in the exposed group, 2.31 µg/dL in the control group I, and 2.74 µg/dL in the control group II; those differences were statistically significant (0.001). Logistic regression confirmed that blood lead ≥ 5 µg/dL is associated with occupational exposure (p = 0.036).
Conclusions Our findings suggest that surveillance for occupational exposure to prevent health damages during pregnancy is needed.
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