Fewer Young Children Have Elevated Lead Levels, Study Finds
The number of young U.S. children who had elevated levels of lead in their blood decreased by 84% between 1988 and 2004, according to a study published on Monday in the journal Pediatrics, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. For the study, CDC researchers examined data on almost 5,000 children ages one to five who participated in a periodic government health survey. Researchers considered children who had at least 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood to have elevated levels.
The study found that the percentage of young children who had elevated levels of lead in their blood decreased from 9% in 1998 to 1.4% in 2004. According to the study, young children from lower-income families had higher levels of lead in their blood than children from higher income families. The study found almost no racial disparities among young children who had at least 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood in 2004. However, 18% of young white children had less than one microgram of lead per deciliter of blood, compared with 11% of Mexican-American children and 4% of black children, according to the study. Researchers said that the decrease in children who had elevated levels of lead in their blood resulted from efforts to reduce their exposure to lead in old house paint, soil water and other sources.
Study co-author Mary Jean Brown said, "It has been a remarkable decline," adding, "It's a public health success story." Caroline Cox, research director of the Center for Environmental Health, said, "There's no reason even one child in the United States should be poisoned by lead," adding, "It's great there aren't as many now as there were, but there are still too many" (Tanner, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/2).
The study is available online.