Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Children's Blood Lead Levels Linked To Lower Test Scores

Date:
October 20, 2009
Source:
Duke University
Summary:
Exposure to lead in early childhood significantly contributes to lower performances on end-of-grade reading tests among minority and low-income children, according to researchers.

Deteriorating lead paint can get on the hands of adults and kids, and be ingested. Exposure to lead in early childhood significantly contributes to lower performances on end-of-grade reading tests among minority and low-income children.
Credit: iStockphoto/Glenn Bo

Exposure to lead in early childhood significantly contributes to lower performances on end-of-grade (EOG) reading tests among minority and low-income children, according to researchers at Duke University and North Carolina Central University.

"We found a clear dose-response pattern between lead exposure and test performance, with the effects becoming more pronounced as you move from children at the high end to the low end of the test-score curve," said lead investigator Marie Lynn Miranda, director of the Children's Environmental Health Initiative (CEHI) at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment.

"Given the higher average lead exposure experienced by African-American children in the United States, our results show that lead does in fact explain part of the observed achievement gap that blacks, children of low socioeconomic status and other disadvantaged groups continue to exhibit in school performance in the U.S. education system, compared to middle- and upper-class whites," Miranda said.

The study, published online in the peer-reviewed journal NeuroToxicology, linked data on blood-lead levels from the North Carolina Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program surveillance registry to EOG reading test scores for 4th graders in all 100 of the state's counties.

Researchers used innovative methods, including the use of a statistical approach called quantile regression, to measure the contribution of lead exposure to declining levels in children's EOG scores.

Their analyses revealed that early childhood exposure to lead, the family's poverty status and parental education all account for test-score declines. On average, exposure to lead accounts for between 7 percent and 16 percent of the decline, with the larger declines associated with higher blood-lead levels.

By comparison, they found the family's poverty status, as indicated by enrollment in a free or reduced-price school lunch program, accounts for 25 percent to 28 percent of EOG declines.

And parental education accounts for the largest portion of the drop in test scores, between 58 percent and 65 percent of the total.

"This demonstrates the particular vulnerabilities of socioeconomically and environmentally disadvantaged children," said Miranda, an associate professor at the Nicholas School and Duke Medical School's department of pediatrics. "Children who experience these cumulative deficits are especially disadvantaged when they enter the school system."

The team's analysis showed that children already at the low end of the test-score curve were more greatly affected by lead exposure – the greater the exposure, the greater the impact on their scores. However, downward shifts were also documented in exposed children at the high end of the EOG curve. This is important, the study noted, because EOG scores are used to place students into advanced and intellectually gifted (AIG) programs at schools across the United States.

"Our findings show that even low-level lead exposure can push some children out of the score range that would make them eligible for these special programs," Miranda said. "To the extent that low-income and minority children are systematically exposed to more lead, AIG programs become less economically and racially diverse."

Miranda's co-authors on the study are Dohyeong Kim of CEHI and the Department of Public Administration at North Carolina Central University; Pamela Maxson and M. Alicia Overstreet Galeano of CEHI; and Jerome Reiter of Duke's Department of Statistical Science.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Duke University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Duke University. "Children's Blood Lead Levels Linked To Lower Test Scores." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 October 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091019172630.htm>.
Duke University. (2009, October 20). Children's Blood Lead Levels Linked To Lower Test Scores. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091019172630.htm
Duke University. "Children's Blood Lead Levels Linked To Lower Test Scores." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091019172630.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

Newsy (July 25, 2014) An online quiz from a required course at Ohio State is making waves for suggesting atheists are inherently smarter than Christians. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins