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Lead Removing Drug Improves Muscle Function in Lead-Exposed Children


Bhattacharya and his team wanted to know if succimer chelation therapy could eliminate or minimize lead-associated muscle-function impairments in children exposed to high levels of lead early in life.

The team identified about 160 Cincinnati children with elevated blood lead levels enrolled in the local arm of a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial conducted nationally by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). Postural balance and gait tests were performed only after each child—then 5 years old—had completed the succimer or placebo therapy.

Tests were designed to eliminate or challenge factors that help maintain postural balance, such as eyesight and visual context.

“Our statistical analysis revealed that subjects who received succimer therapy showed a significant improvement in balance and movement compared to the non-therapy group,” says Bhattacharya. “This new data—combined with our previous research—leads us to believe that succimer therapy may also result in reduced injuries among this at-risk population.”

In the October 2006 issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health, Bhattacharya’s team reported that teenagers who experienced high blood lead levels during childhood appear to suffer more accidental injuries than those who had lower lead exposure.

He says further research is needed to determine if succimer therapy can minimize long-term negative effects of lead on balance and movement.

According to the most recent U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, more than 434,000 children between the ages of 1 and 5 have elevated blood lead levels. Lead is known to be associated with decreased intellectual capabilities and balance disorders among infants, children and teens.

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