Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

One Less Lead Link? Exposure-Hypertension Association Not Replicated in Young Children

Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

One Less Lead Link? Exposure-Hypertension Association Not Replicated in Young Children

Article excerpt

For two decades, scientists have known that lead exposure can induce hypertension in lab animals. More recent studies suggest it might also promote hypertension in adults. But little was known about the metal's effects on blood pressure in children. Now researchers who studied 780 lead-exposed children for five years report seeing no indication that lead raises blood pressure in young children [EHP 114:579-583; Chen et al.].

Lead's most widely documented effects are neurological. Exposure diminishes intelligence and alters behavior. Young children are particularly vulnerable to these effects because their nervous systems are still developing. Children are exposed primarily through paint particles in household dust and outdoor soil contaminated with lead from paint and industrial and motor vehicle emissions. Lead exposure in the United States plummeted after the 1978 ban on lead paint, when the CDC reported that 88% of children aged 1 through 5 had blood lead levels above the level of concern of 10 micrograms per deciliter ([micro]g/dL). By 2000, that rate had dropped to 2.2%.

The researchers originally set out to determine whether treatment with the oral chelating agent succimer would improve lead-exposed children's scores on behavioral and cognitive tests. They recruited 780 children at clinics in Baltimore, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and Newark. …

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