Childhood Lead Exposure Linked to Violent Crime in Adults

from Environmental News Service

High levels of lead in the blood of fetuses and young children has been linked for the first time to higher rates of criminal arrest in adulthood. The strongest association between childhood blood-lead level and criminal behavior was for arrests involving acts of violence, new research has found.

Based on long-term data from a childhood lead study in Cincinnati, Kim Dietrich, PhD, and his team at the University of Cincinnati found the first evidence of a direct link between prenatal and early-childhood lead exposure and an increased risk for criminal behavior later in life.

“Previous studies either relied on indirect measures of exposure or failed to follow subjects into adulthood to examine the relationship between lead exposure and criminal activity in young adults,” explains Dietrich, principal investigator of the study and professor of environmental health at the University of Cincinnati.

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