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Hair lead levels related to children's classroom attention-deficit behavior.


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Tuthill RW.
School of Public Health, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA.

The goal of this study was to evaluate the relationship between hair lead levels of children and their attention-deficit behaviors in the classroom.
Scalp hair specimens were obtained from 277 first-grade pupils, teachers completed the abbreviated Boston Teacher's Rating Scale for rating classroom attention-deficit behavior, and parents completed a short questionnaire. The children's hair lead concentrations ranged from less than 1 to 11.3 ppm (microg/g). The striking dose-response relationship between levels of lead and negative teacher ratings remained significant after controlling for age, ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status. An even stronger relationship existed between physician-diagnosed attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and hair lead in the same children. There was no apparent 'safe' threshold for lead.
Scalp hair should be considered a useful clinical and epidemiologic approach for the measurement of chronic low-level lead exposure in children.

Arch Environ Health 1996 May-Jun;51(3):214-20
PMID: 8687242 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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