ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
Taking the Mystery Out of Hypnotherapy
The Zen Way to Pain Relief
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
Body Fat, Muscle Distribution Linked to RA Disability
Breast-feeding Might Shield Women From Rheumatoid Arthritis
CANCER
Method for Treating Cervical Lesions May Pose Pregnancy Risks
Many Ignore Symptoms of Bladder Trouble
Quitting Smoking Doubles Survival in Early Stage Lung Cancer
CAREGIVING
Caregivers Face Multiple Strains Tending Older Parents
What Moms Learned May Be Passed to Offspring
Depression, PTSD Common Among Lung Transplant Patient Caregivers
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
Firefighters Have Narrower-Than-Normal Arteries, Study Finds
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
DENTAL, ORAL
Periodontal Disease Impacts Whole Health
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
Holistic Dentistry-My View
DIABETES
Patients' Photos Help Boost Radiologists' Accuracy
Older Diabetics With Depression Face Higher Death Rate
Doctors Urged to Screen Diabetics for Sleep Apnea
DIET, NUTRITION
Weight Loss Might Not Curb Knee Arthritis
5 Reasons why you could gain weight while dieting
Red Meat No No No But Oily Fish Yes Yes Yes
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Pilots May Face Greater Cancer Risk
Fish in U.S. Rivers Tainted With Common Medications
Artificial Light Linked to Prostate Cancer Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
Omega-3 Foods May Lower Eye Disease Risk
It's a Whole New Outlook for Cataract Patients
Thyroid Problems Boost Glaucoma Risk
FITNESS
Have Fun This Summer, But DO Be Careful
Occupational Therapy Plus Exercise Benefits Osteoarthritis
Seniors Who Exercise Help Their Health
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
GENERAL HEALTH
Simple Holistic Approach to Fight the Common Cold
Play Creatively as a Kid, Be a Healthier Adult
For Women, Moderate Midlife Drinking Linked to Healthier Old Age
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
Chinese Red Yeast Rice May Prevent Heart Attack
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Standard IQ Test May Underestimate People With Autism
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
MEN'S HEALTH
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
MENTAL HEALTH
Have a Goal in Life? You Might Live Longer
Music Soothes Anxiety as Well as Massage Does
Breast-Fed Baby May Mean Better Behaved Child
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
SENIORS
For Older Walkers, Faster Is Better
Fitness Fades Fast After 45
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Women Smokers Lose 14.5 Years Off Life Span
Flame-Retardant Chemical Linked to Conception Problems
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
Add your Article

Lead Exposure in Childhood Linked to Criminal Behavior Later

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, May 28 (HealthDay News) -- Children who are exposed to lead at a young age are more likely to be arrested later in life.

A study in the May 27 issue of PLoS Medicine is the first empirical evidence that elevated blood lead levels, both in the pregnant mother and in the child, are associated with criminal behavior in young adulthood.

"I never would have thought that we would be seeing these effects into the later 20s," said study co-author Kim Dietrich, a professor of environmental health at the University of Cincinnati. "I'm actually quite astounded and quite worried about this. Although lead levels have been going down in this country, a large proportion of the population now in their 20s and 30s had blood levels in this neurotoxic range."

Childhood lead exposure has been linked with anti-social behavior, lower IQ, attention deficits, hyperactivity and weak executive control functions, all of which are risk factors for future delinquent behavior (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, in particular, is a risk factor for adult criminal behavior). Studies have also related sales of leaded gasoline or high atmospheric lead levels with criminal behavior.

Although use has been curtailed recently, in the past lead was widely used in paint, solder for water pipes and gasoline. The U.S. government banned lead paint and solder in 1978 and 1986, respectively. By 1996, leaded gasoline had been phased out. These efforts resulted in a dramatic decrease in the number of U.S. children with blood lead levels considered "of concern" (from 13.5 million in 1978 to 310,000 in 2002).

But many older buildings, especially those in poor, inner-city neighborhoods, still have lead paint on the walls and windowsills. Earlier this year, the U.S. government issued new rules designed to protect children from exposure to lead-based paint during repairs and renovations to homes and buildings. The new rules will take effect in 2010.

Dietrich's paper is part of a larger study initiated in 1979 to study the effects of both prenatal and early childhood lead exposure on the growth and development of children. Pregnant women recruited into the study lived in areas of Cincinnati with a high concentration of older, lead-contaminated housing.

For the current report, researchers looked at maternal blood lead concentrations during pregnancy as well as concentrations in 250 children at regular intervals until they were almost 7. Arrest and incarceration information taken from county records years later was correlated with those blood lead levels.

Arrest rates were higher as blood lead concentrations went up. The association between high blood lead levels and violent crimes was even stronger. Any 5 micrograms per deciliter elevation in blood lead levels increased the rate of arrest for violent offenses by more than 25 percent, Dietrich said.

This was true even after adjusting for a multitude of other factors.

"In essence, we stripped away the variants that could be accounted for by early home environment -- their health at birth, mother's ingestion of drug and alcohol during pregnancy, their own ingestion of drugs postnatally and as adolescents and as young adults," Dietrich explained.

A companion paper in the same issue of the journal found that, based on MRI data, exposure to lead during childhood was associated with reductions in gray matter volume in the brain in adulthood. The reductions were related to specific regions, including those responsible for executive function, mood regulation and decision-making. The reductions were more striking in males than females.

"This is shedding new light that no dose is safe for lead," said Kim Cecil, co-author of the companion paper and an associate professor of radiology, pediatrics and neuroscience at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and Cincinnati Children's Hospital.

And while lead has been largely removed from the landscapes of developed countries, the same is not necessarily true in other parts of the world, Cecil pointed out.

Even in the United States, more could be done, Dietrich said.

"The Office of Management and Budget estimated that nearly 60 percent of children on Medicaid are not being screened [for lead exposure], as they should be," he said. "And a recent study in Michigan found that 40 percent of children with blood levels in the neurotoxic range were never followed up."

More information

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has more on lead.



SOURCES: Kim Cecil, Ph.D., associate professor, radiology, pediatrics and neuroscience, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center; Kim Dietrich, Ph.D., professor, environmental health, University of Cincinnati; May 27, 2008, PLoS Medicine

Last Updated: May 28, 2008

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