Children with developmental and behavioural problems may have high blood concentrations of lead, according to a recent UK study.
Researchers from the South & West Devon Health Authority took blood samples from 69 problem children (average age 5.7 years) and compared lead concentrations with blood samples from 136 non-problem children as controls.
The problem children had significantly higher lead concentrations in their blood than the controls. Also, a significant proportion (12 per cent) had toxic concentrations (more than 100 mg/L) of lead compared with the controls (0.7 per cent).
The researchers argue that, given these results, children with behavioural problems should be routinely screened for excessive lead concentrations especially as measures to reduce blood lead concentrations are simple and inexpensive (Arch Dis Child, 2001; 85: 286-8).