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Even minute levels of lead cause brain damage in children
Date:11/20/2007

England Journal of Medicine, that reported adverse effects of BLLs below 10 mcg/dl in a group of children followed from infancy to age 5. "Our new findings are based on follow-up testing of the same children at age 6, using a more comprehensive IQ test to assess cognitive function. The results provide compelling evidence that low-level lead exposure has effects into the school-age years," said Todd Jusko '01, a University of Washington Ph.D. candidate in epidemiology and co-author on both reports.

"Children living in poverty disproportionately suffer from elevated BLLs," said statistician and co-author Charles Henderson, a Cornell senior researcher in human development. He also noted that "even a small decline in an IQ score is likely to be reflected in aptitude test scores such as the SAT."

According to the CDC, about one out of every 50 children in the United States between ages 1 and 5 has a BLL above 10 mcg/dl and about 10 percent of children have BLLs of 5 mcg/dl or higher; about 25 percent of U.S. homes with children under age 6 have a lead-based paint hazard.

"The bottom line," according to Canfield, "is that lead is a persistent neurotoxin that causes brain damage. The fact that lead has been found in millions of toys, even toys specifically designed for children to put into their mouths, presents an unacceptable risk. Our findings suggest the need to re-evaluate the current federal standards for lead in consumer products and the current definition of an elevated BLL in children."


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