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Calcium supplements may prevent birth defects

February 9, 2009 by  

Birth defects may be prevented by calcium supplementsCalcium supplements help menopausal women avoid osteoporosis, but a newly published paper shows that they have significant benefits in pregnant women as well.

In particular, calcium supplements reduce the level of lead in the bloodstream, according to American and Mexican scientists who conducted a study of 670 women during 2001-2003 who were given 1,200 mg dietary calcium supplementation and subsequently evaluated for lead levels.

The researchers, who published their results in the January issue of Environmental Health Perspectives, found that lead levels in those women fell by an average of 11 percent.

The mechanism behind the process relies on the fact that when calcium is released from the bones during pregnancy to support fetal development, lead is also released. By substituting bone calcium for calcium from supplements, women can reduce the level of lead in their blood, according to the journal.

The researchers concluded that calcium supplements are a low-risk, cost-effective means for lowering fetal lead exposure. This type of exposure is associated with low birth weight, lower intelligence scores, and neurological defects such as impaired motor and visual skills.

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