(Staten Island, NY):
A traditional morning sickness remedy, commonly known as calabash chalk, has been found to contain lead
, the New York City Health Department announced today.
The agency warned pregnant women against using the product, found in stores that sell African remedies. The Health Department was alerted to the potential hazard by the federal Food and Drug Administration.
Lead poisoning can cause problems in pregnancy and can lead to learning and behavior problems in young children. Long-term effects include nerve disorders and brain damage.
Arsenic is also a poisonous metal that can increase the risk of cancer, skin lesions, eye irritation and nervous-system disorders.
Anyone who has used calabash chalk should immediately stop using the product, call a doctor to order a blood-lead test and keep them away from children.