ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
Tai Chi: An Ideal Exercise for Many People with Diabetes
38% of U.S. Adults Use Alternative Treatments
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Get in Step With Summer Foot Care
Tequila Plant May Help Fight Bone Loss
Fruits and Veggies May Strengthen Bones
CANCER
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Method for Treating Cervical Lesions May Pose Pregnancy Risks
CAREGIVING
Stressed Health Care Workers Battle 'Compassion Fatigue'
Many Hospital Patients Can't ID Their Doctors
Many Alzheimer's Caregivers Admit to Abusive Behavior
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
Bad Marriages Harder on Women's Health
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
DENTAL, ORAL
Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
Health Tip: At Risk for Gingivitis
DIABETES
Americans Consuming More Sugary Beverages
Red-Grape Compound May Improve Diabetes
Formula Puts Doctor, Patient Glucose Readings on Same Page
DIET, NUTRITION
For Fitness, Cutting Calories May Not Be Enough
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
Polyunsaturated Fats Really May Lower Heart Risk
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Exposure to 9/11 Fumes Tied to Chronic Headaches
Vitamin D Deficit May Trigger MS Risk Gene
EPA Alerts Seniors to Carbon Monoxide Dangers
EYE CARE, VISION
Clues Found to Brain Mechanism Behind Migraines
Sports Eye Injuries Leading Cause of Blindness in Youths
Eye Problems, Hearing Loss May Be Linked
FITNESS
As Temperature Plummets, It's Still Safe to Exercise
Be Healthy, Spend Less
Early Exercise Boosts Outcomes for ICU Patients
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
GENERAL HEALTH
Household Insecticides May Be Linked to Autoimmune Diseases
Multivitamins Might Prolong Life
Can You Talk Your Way to Happy?
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Soy Protein Doesn't Lower Cholesterol
Obese People Seem to Do Better With Heart Disease
Psychiatric Drugs Might Raise Cardiac Death Risk
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Frequent Feedings May Be Making Babies Fat
Family Medicine Cabinet Top Source Of Kid's Poisonings
School Meals Need to Get Healthier
MEN'S HEALTH
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
MENTAL HEALTH
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
Green Spaces Boost the Body and the Mind
Drink Away Dementia?
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
SENIORS
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
As You Age, Better Health Means Better Sex
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Rheumatoid Arthritis Rising Among U.S. Women
Acupuncture May Help Relieve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Heal Your Life® Tips for Living Well
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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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