Exposure to lead in the womb and through breastmilk may predispose children to dental caries, according to US researchers.
Although performed on rats, the study showed significant results, which point to the need for more research in humans. The pups, born to mothers exposed to lead via drinking water, had 40 per cent more cavities than those whose mothers were not. The study also showed that concentrations in the mothers' milk were much higher than concentrations in their blood, suggesting that lead is concentrated in the mammary glands.
The results of this study go some way toward explaining why children in inner city areas have higher rates of tooth decay and is another compelling argument for getting the lead out of the environment (Nat Med, 1997; 9: 1024-5).