Lead poisoning outbreak from consumption of contaminated Ayurvedic medication

Mark J Ferson, Sinead Flanigan and Toni Cains
Med J Aust 2022; 216 (4): . || doi: 10.5694/mja2.51422
Published online: 7 March 2022

To the Editor: In August 2020, the South Eastern Sydney Public Health Unit, located in New South Wales, Australia, received a statutory laboratory notification of an elevated blood lead level of 0.34 µmol/L in a preschool‐aged child recently diagnosed with autism. This was above the 0.24 µmol/L level requiring notification under the Public Health Act 2010 (NSW). The test had been requested by the child's paediatrician due to concern about the child’s recent consumption of an oral Ayurvedic medicine prescribed by a naturopath.

  • 1 South Eastern Sydney Local Health District, Sydney, NSW
  • 2 University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW


We acknowledge Antony Underwood for his clinical acumen in linking the possibility of lead poisoning with consumption of Ayurvedic medication in the index case, and thank all those who assisted in the public health response.

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

  • 1. Therapeutic Goods Administration. Manasmithra Vatika (manasamitram pills) Ayurvedic medicine. Safety advisory – contains dangerous levels of lead and other metals. 25 Sept 2020.‐vatika‐manasamitram‐pills‐ayurvedic‐medicine? (viewed July 2021).
  • 2. Santa Maria MP, Hill BD, Kline J. Lead (Pb) neurotoxicology and cognition. Appl Neuropsychol Child 2019; 8: 272–293.
  • 3. Tait PA, Vora A, James S, et al. Severe congenital lead poisoning in preterm infant due to a herbal remedy. Med J Aust 2002; 177: 193–195.‐congenital‐lead‐poisoning‐preterm‐infant‐due‐herbal‐remedy
  • 4. Gogtay NJ, Bhatt HA, Dalvi SS, Kshirsagar NA. The use and safety of non‐allopathic Indian medicines. Drug Saf 2002; 25: 1005– 1019.
  • 5. Breeher L, Mikulski MA, Czeczok T, et al. A cluster of lead poisoning among consumers of Ayurvedic medicine. Int J Occup Environ Health 2015; 21: 303–307.


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