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Blood lead levels in Egyptian children from high and low lead-polluted areas: impact on cognitive function

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Mostafa GA, El-Shahawi HH, Mokhtar A. Blood lead levels in Egyptian children from high and low lead-polluted areas: impact on cognitive function.

Acta Neurol Scand 2009: 120: 30–37.

© 2009 The Authors Journal compilation © 2009 Blackwell Munksgaard. Objectives – 

Many children are harmed by low-level lead exposure which impairs cognitive development with subsequent poor scholastic achievement. We investigated blood lead levels in children in relation to cognitive function. Materials and methods – 

Blood lead levels were measured in 100 children recruited from high (n =50) and low (n =50) lead-polluted areas. Results – 

Blood lead levels ranged between 3 and 28 μg/dl (median 9, interquartile range 6 μg/dl). In addition, 43% of children had levels 10 μg/dl, of whom 90.1% were living in high-risk areas for lead pollution. Cognitive dysfunction was found in 37% of children. Children with cognitive dysfunction had significantly higher blood lead and lower hemoglobin than those without (P <0.001). Conclusions – 

Increased blood lead level in many children is one of the health problems in Egypt which may be the reason, at least in part, for cognitive dysfunction with subsequent poor scholastic achievement. Thus, interventions to control lead exposure are mandatory.

Keywords: blood lead; children; cognitive function

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Departments of Pediatrics 2: Neuropsychiatry 3: Community, Environmental, and Occupational Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt

Publication date: July 1, 2009


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