This paper tests the hypothesis that exposure to lead during pregnancy is associated with reduced intrauterine growth and an increase in preterm delivery. The sample comprises women, recruited at mid-pregnancy, residing in Titova Mitrovica, a lead smelter town, or in Pristina, a non-exposed town 25 miles away. Both towns are in the province of Kosovo, Yugoslavia. Mean blood lead concentrations (BPb's) at mid-pregnancy were 0.92 μmol/L (±0.38, N=401) in the exposed town and 0.27 μmol/L (±0.09, N=506) in the comparison town.No differences were found between towns for either birthweight or length of gestation. Mean birthweight was 3308 (±566) grams in Titova Mitrovica and 3361 (±525) grams in Pristina. Mean length of gestation was 274 (±18.8) days in Titova Mitrovica and 275 (±15.6) days in Pristina. After adjustment for the effects of potential confounders, no significant relationships were found between maternal BPb measured at mid-pregnancy, at delivery or in the umbilical cord and either birthweight, length of gestation, or preterm delivery (<37 weeks).We conclude that exposure to environmental lead does not impair fetal growth or influence length of gestation.
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