Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Another Look at Succimer: Cognitive Deficits May Be Reversible after All

Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Another Look at Succimer: Cognitive Deficits May Be Reversible after All

Article excerpt

Clinicians for years have used chelation to treat lead poisoning without knowing whether it prevented cognitive impairment in lead-exposed children. A recent study of chelation therapy now brings new hope to parents of children exposed to lead [EHP 115:201-209; Stangle et al.]. The Cornell University study is thought to be the first to show that chelation can alleviate cognitive deficits caused by lead exposure. That finding contradicts the most comprehensive chelation study to date, in which scientists at the NIEHS found no cognitive benefits of the therapy.

Chelation's known effect is to cause lead and other metals to be removed quickly from the blood and excreted in urine and feces. The treatment originally was used to prevent death from toxic exposures. Today, though, with the phaseout of leaded gasoline, solders, and paint, nonoccupational exposures are at much lower levels, and typically come from lead-bearing paint and dust in old houses.

In young children, however, even low lead levels can cause learning disabilities, attention difficulties, and antisocial behavior. Clinicians use chelation in children to minimize that risk, despite uncertainties about its effects in this regard. Treatment is recommended by the CDC if the child's blood lead level exceeds 45 [micro]g/dL. Yet a CDC survey showed many children are treated for levels as low as 10 [micro]g/dL.

The Cornell researchers tested the commonly used chelation drug succimer on juvenile rats fed lead doses that simulated moderate and high childhood exposures. …

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