Get the Lead Out!

Get the Lead Out!

This section is compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
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FROM:   MedPage Today ~ May 13, 2013

By Nancy Walsh, Staff Writer, MedPage Today

Here's the Bad news from MedPage Today

When the FDA finally got around to testing 324 multivitamin-mineral products that target children and pregnant women, they found that only 4 of them were lead-free.   [1]

Now, new research published in the Pediatrics Journal suggests that even low levels of lead in a supplement can have adverse effects on your children.   [2]   Why not use a supplement made correctly, so you can protect your family?

Even Low Lead Exposure Hinders Kids' Reading

Young children exposed to lead -- even at low levels -- are at risk for not meeting reading readiness benchmarks in kindergarten, a large study of urban children found.

On tests of reading readiness, children with blood lead levels between 5 and 9 g/dL scored 4.5 points (95% CI -2.9 to -6.2) lower than those with levels below 5 g/dL, according to Pat McLaine, DPH, of the University of Maryland in Baltimore, and colleagues.

And those with lead levels of 10 g/dL and higher had scores 10.1 points (95% CI -7 to -13.3) lower, the researchers reported online in Pediatrics.   [2]

Almost 25 years ago the CDC established 10 g/dL as a "level of concern" for blood lead levels in children, and more recently determined that children whose levels are 5 g/dL should be targeted for intervention.

"Learning to read is critical to the entire process of formal education," McLaine and colleagues stated.

This requires "proficiency in phonologic processing skills (using the sounds of one's language to process written and oral language) and in the ability to decode new words," they explained.

A possible association between lead exposure and reading readiness has not previously been examined, but cooperation between school and public health authorities in Providence, R.I., provided an opportunity to consider this.

Using linked data from the Rhode Island Department of Health and Providence's public school district records, McLaine's group compared results among 3,406 children who had been tested for blood lead levels an average of three times before entering kindergarten.

Reading readiness was assessed on the Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening-Kindergarten (PALS-K) instrument, which measures reading-relevant cognitive abilities.

The test is given in the fall of kindergarten, and children who score lower than 28 out of a total of 102 are given additional classroom instruction throughout the year, the researchers explained.

The goal is for children to score 81 or higher by the time the test is repeated in the spring.


[1]   Survey Data on Lead in Women's and Children's Vitamins
FDA Website ~ August 2008

[2]   Elevated Blood Lead Levels and Reading Readiness at the Start of Kindergarten
Pediatrics. 2013 (Jun);   131 (6):   1081-1089

OBJECTIVE:   To evaluate the relationship between blood lead levels (BLLs) and reading readiness at kindergarten entry, an early marker of school performance, in a diverse urban school population.

METHODS:   Kindergarten reading readiness test scores for children attending public kindergarten in Providence, Rhode Island, were linked to state health department records of blood lead testing by using individual identifiers. The study population (N = 3406) was 59% Hispanic. For each child, the geometric mean BLL was estimated by using all previously reported BLLs. Analyses were adjusted for gender, age, year enrolled, race, child language, and free/reduced lunch status as a measure of socioeconomic status.

RESULTS:   The median geometric mean BLL was 4.2 g/dL; 20% of children had at least 1 venous BLL =10 g/dL. Compared with children with BLLs <5 g/dL, the adjusted prevalence ratios (95% confidence interval [CI]) for failing to achieve the national benchmark for reading readiness were 1.21 (1.19 to 1.23) and 1.56 (1.51 to 1.60) for children with BLLs of 5 to 9 and =10 g/dL, respectively. On average, reading readiness scores decreased by 4.5 (95% CI: -2.9 to -6.2) and 10.0 (95% CI: -7.0 to -13.3) points for children with BLLs of 5 to 9 and =10 g/dL, respectively, compared with BLLs <5 g/dL.

CONCLUSIONS:   BLLs well below 10 g/dL were associated with lower reading readiness at kindergarten entry. The high prevalence of elevated BLLs warrants additional investigation in other high-risk US populations. Results suggest benefits from additional collaboration between public health, public education, and community data providers.

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