This section is from the book "Materia Medica And Therapeutics Inorganic Substances", by Charles D. F. Phillips. Also available from Amazon: Materia medica and therapeutics.
Chronic lead-poisoning often leads to abortion, and if this does not occur, the children born are delicate. Of 123 conceptions among lead-workers, 50 children only were born alive, and of these but 14 survived infancy. It would seem that the influence of one parent only affected by lead is enough to produce these results (M. Paul: Archives de Med., 1860). Amenorrhoea has been clearly traced by Dr. Dowse to working in lead.
The influence exerted by this drug upon the kidney is of great practical importance: albuminuria is not uncommon in acute plumbism, and is then connected probably with altered blood-conditions, but in chronic cases a directly injurious action is exerted on the kidney structure, leading to fatty or albuminoid degeneration. Dr. Shearman has recorded two remarkable instances of albuminuria in one family, clearly traceable to the use of drinking-water impregnated with lead - characteristic palsy was also present. The cases recovered for a time after removing the cause, but later, one died of apoplexy, the other of albuminuria (Practitioner, vol. xii.).
During a paroxysm of colic the kidney secretion is diminished, and is passed with difficulty. It is proved, also, that the withdrawal of urates from the blood in its passage through the kidneys is lessened under the influence of lead, and the amount of uric acid excreted by the same organs is lessened, hence a larger than normal amount remains in the blood, and the patient becomes exposed to gouty attacks. Indeed, both Dr. Garrod and Dr. Ringer have developed acute gout in susceptible subjects by the administration of lead salts, and the former has calculated that 33 per cent. of gouty patients had been exposed in some manner to the action of lead. Pains about the joints, and urate deposits, are not uncommon in saturnine cachexia. Dr. Wilks adds testimony to their frequency (British Medical Journal, i., 1875).