Lead exposure in childhood associated with smaller brain volume in adulthood

Lead exposure in childhood associated with smaller brain volume in adulthood

In childhood, lead poisoning has been associated with smaller brain volume in adulthood, according to a study released on May 29, 2008 in the open access journal PLoS Medicine.

Lead poisoning is toxic to the nervous system, and has been linked to problems such as abnormal thinking and behavior. However, little is known about how low to moderate levels of lead in childhood can affect specific regions of the brain.

To explore this question, Dr. Kim Cecil and colleagues of the University of Cincinnati, USA, attempted to examine the association between brain volume in adulthood and exposure to lead in the uterus or during early childhood. They investigated adults born in a poor area of Cincinnati during a time period when it had higher concentration of older, lead contaminated housing. Each of the 157 adults, aged between 15 and 17, underwent magnetic resonance imaging of their brains.

It was found that exposure to lead as a child could be correlated to a lower brain volume in adulthood, especially in men. In fact, the greatest loss in brain volume was found in subjects who were most seriously exposed to lead in childhood. Specifically, the regions of the brain that were affected were responsible for organizing actions, decisions, behaviors, for regulating behaviors, and for coordinating find movements.

According to the authors, this indicates that lead's effects on the brain can produce perpetual effects on the brain's structure, creating adverse cognitive and behavioral outcomes, including those involving executive functions and fine motor control. Dr David Bellinger, of Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA, agreed with the results of the study in that early lead exposure can disrupt brain development in permanent ways.

About PLoS Medicine

PLoS Medicine is an open access, freely available international medical journal. It publishes original research that enhances our understanding of human health and disease, together with commentary and analysis of important global health issues. For more information, visit //www.plosmedicine.org.

About the Public Library of Science

The Public Library of Science (PLoS) is a non-profit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource. For more information, visit //www.plos.org.

Decreased brain volume in adults with childhood lead exposure.

Cecil KM, Brubaker CJ, Adler CM, Dietrich KN, Altaye M, et al.

PLoS Med 5(5): e112.

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What Does Lead Poisoning Do To Your Brain? (Video Medical And Professional 2020).

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