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Childhood lead exposure linked to increased injuries as teens

CINCINNATI -- Teenagers who experienced high blood-lead levels during childhood appear to suffer more accidental injuries than those who had lower lead exposure, according to new research conducted by University of Cincinnati (UC) environmental health experts.

The UC team reports these findings in the October 2006 edition of the Journal of Adolescent Health.

The researchers surveyed 212 teens (with a 42 percent response rate) from the Cincinnati Lead Study, a group of children from neighborhoods with high lead concentrations who were exposed to the substance at various levels.

Participants with varying childhood blood-lead levels were surveyed to determine the relationship between lead exposure and injuries during adolescence. These included sprains and cuts, most of which occurred at home and affected the upper extremities.

Using advanced probability tools, the UC research team showed that the injuries were more likely to occur in adolescents who had experienced elevated blood-lead levels when they were younger.

"The teens' blood lead measurements were not categorized as high or low," explains Laurel Kincl, PhD, lead author of the study and a graduate of UC's occupational ergonomics and safety program. "Using each individual's historical blood lead levels we found that those who reported having an injury had higher historical blood lead levels than those who didn't report an injury. Also, teenagers who reported that loss of balance or a fall was the cause of injury, resulting in limited activity or having to seek medical care, also had higher historical blood lead levels."

"This study shows a significant correlation between elevated childhood blood lead levels and the risk for multiple, unintentional injuries related to a fall or loss of balance later in life," says Kincl, who is now on the faculty of the University of Oregon.

Previous research has shown that childhood lead exposure affects
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Contact: Amanda Harper
amanda.harper@uc.edu
513-558-4657
University of Cincinnati
2-Oct-2006


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