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May 23, 1977

Lead Poisoning From Cocktail Glasses

JAMA. 1977;237(21):2288-2289. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03270480028010

To the Editor.—  The article by Natelson and Fred (236:2527, 1976) reporting a nowadays unusual but still fascinating source of undue lead exposure should remind us not to disregard origins of diseases that have fallen into oblivion. Since the cocktail glasses implicated in this case were probably marketed by the thousands and most of them are likely to have been put to use similar to that reported, one wonders how many cases of lead poisoning they might have caused and what fraction of these were diagnosed as such.Lead poisoning from ingestion of acidic beverages (ie, fruit juices, cider, wine, and rum) contained in leadglazed earthenware or contaminated with lead during manufacture was an important (unrecognized) cause of serious and fatal lead poisoning for hundreds of years.During the Middle Ages, the practice of vintners of adding lead-containing mixtures to poor vintages caused widespread epidemics of colic, with symptoms that