Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Lead in kids' blood linked with behavioral, emotional problems

Date:
June 30, 2014
Source:
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
Summary:
Emotional and behavioral problems show up even with low exposure to lead, and as blood lead levels increase in children, so do the problems, according to research. Blood lead concentrations measured in more than 1,300 preschool children in China were associated with increased risk of behavioral and emotional problems, such as being anxious, depressed, or aggressive.

Emotional and behavioral problems show up even with low exposure to lead, and as blood lead levels increase in children, so do the problems, according to research funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National Institutes of Health. The results were published online June 30 in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

"This research focused on lower blood lead levels than most other studies and adds more evidence that there is no safe lead level," explained NIEHS Health Scientist Administrator Kimberly Gray, Ph.D. "It is important to continue to study lead exposure in children around the world, and to fully understand short-term and long-term behavioral changes across developmental milestones. It is well-documented that lead exposure lowers the IQ of children."

Blood lead concentrations measured in more than 1,300 preschool children in China were associated with increased risk of behavioral and emotional problems, such as being anxious, depressed, or aggressive. The average blood lead level in the children was 6.4 micrograms per deciliter.

While many studies to date have examined health effects at or above 10 micrograms per deciliter, this study focused on lower levels. The CDC now uses a reference level of 5 micrograms per deciliter, to identify children with blood lead levels that are much higher than normal, and recommends educating parents on reducing sources of lead in their environment and continued monitoring of blood lead levels.

"Young children are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of lead, because lead can affect children's developing nerves and brains," said senior author Jianghong Liu, Ph.D., from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Philadelphia.

Lead is a naturally occurring toxic metal, but sources of lead exposure are often due to human activities, including burning fossil fuels, mining, and manufacturing. In the United States, lead exposure usually comes from lead-containing products, such as paint, caulking, and pipe solder, in older homes. In China, lead exposure is more often related to air pollution.

"The sources of lead exposure may explain why concentrations of lead are different," explained Liu. "In China, we found that blood lead concentrations increased with age in preschool children. In the United States, however, blood lead concentrations increase with age in children up to 2-3 years old and then decline."

For the study, the researchers analyzed one blood sample taken from each child between the ages of 3-5. Behavioral problems were assessed at age 6 using standardized questionnaires. The questionnaires were filled out by the children's teachers and parents, which the authors noted is both a strength and limitation. "The study used scores from two sources, but the ratings do not provide a clinical diagnostic measure of behavioral problems," said Liu.

U.S. studies have reported that lead exposure causes what psychologists call externalizing behavior problems, such as aggressiveness and bullying, which may lead to truancy and even jail time as children get older. In this study, children with higher blood lead levels had internalizing problems, such as anxiety and depression, as well as some externalizing problems. Though not addressed in this study, Liu said these differences could be explained by cultural, genetic, or environmental variations, or research gaps.

The authors emphasized, "Continuing monitoring of blood lead concentrations, as well as clinical assessments of mental behavior during regular pediatric visits, may be warranted."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jianghong Liu, Xianchen Liu, Wei Wang, Linda McCauley, Jennifer Pinto-Martin, Yingjie Wang, Linda Li, Chonghuai Yan, Walter J. Rogan. Blood Lead Concentrations and Children’s Behavioral and Emotional Problems. JAMA Pediatrics, 2014; DOI: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.332

Cite This Page:

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). "Lead in kids' blood linked with behavioral, emotional problems." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140630163920.htm>.
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). (2014, June 30). Lead in kids' blood linked with behavioral, emotional problems. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140630163920.htm
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). "Lead in kids' blood linked with behavioral, emotional problems." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140630163920.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Corporal punishment in the United States is on the decline, but there is renewed debate over its use after Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was charged with child abuse. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) In a small study, researchers found that the majority of long-time smokers quit after taking psilocybin pills and undergoing therapy sessions. 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