Succimer therapy for congenital lead poisoning from maternal petrol sniffing

Suzanna T Powell, Srinivas Bolisetty and Gavin R Wheaton
Med J Aust 2006; 184 (2): 84-85.

An infant, born at 35 weeks’ gestation to a woman who sniffed petrol, had a cord blood lead level eight times the accepted limit. Treatment with oral dimercaptosuccinic acid promptly reduced his blood lead levels. To our knowledge, this is the first reported case of congenital lead poisoning secondary to maternal petrol sniffing. We suggest that at-risk pregnancies should be identified, cord blood lead levels tested, and chelation therapy and developmental follow-up offered to affected infants.

A 27-year-old Indigenous woman, who had sniffed petrol since childhood, presented for antenatal care during her first pregnancy. At the age of 14 years, she had severe lead encephalopathy that led to chronic neurological deficits, including permanent ataxia and memory impairment. Her serum lead levels at 8 and 35 weeks’ gestation were raised at 1.48 and 2.21 μmol/L, respectively (recommended level, ≤ 0.48 μmol/L1).

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  • Suzanna T Powell1
  • Srinivas Bolisetty2
  • Gavin R Wheaton3

  • 1 Tamworth Base Hospital, Tamworth, NSW.
  • 2 Royal Hospital for Women, Sydney, NSW.
  • 3 Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Adelaide, SA.


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