Blood lead levels rise in two new mothers amid water contamination scandal
by Chantal Yuen, originally posted on May 4, 2016
Blood lead levels have risen in two women who were affected by contaminated water after they gave birth. Kwong Wah Hospital revealed data on Tuesday regarding four new mothers who were affected by the lead-in-water scandal last year.
A 27-year-old woman’s lead levels was found to have risen to 10 micrograms after giving birth. Another 33-year-old woman saw lead levels decrease to under 5 micrograms before rising to 8 micrograms again. The other two women did not see such rises and the babies of the four women did not have lead levels that were deemed significant.
The scandal led to a citywide panic over the safety of water and widespread testing of samples at public housing estates, particularly those built in recent years.
If more than five micrograms of lead is found in the blood of pregnant women or children, they will have to go through further examinations, according to Health Department guidelines.
Kwong Wah Hospital Consultant Obstetrician and Chief of Service at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Leung Wing-cheong said that the lead may have settled in the bones and that giving birth led to an increase in bone metabolism speed. This is because more calcium needs to be produced for breastfeeding milk.
Leung said that all four women had been drinking distilled water since their first check-ups at the hospital. Lead that has settled in the bone may take up to 25 years to completely disappear, he said.