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Association of childhood lead exposure with adult personality traits, mental health

January 23, 2019

Bottom Line: Millions of adults now entering middle age were exposed to high levels of lead as children, with childhood lead exposure linked to lower IQ, greater rates of child behavior problems, hyperactivity and antisocial behavior. This study included nearly 600 children in New Zealand who had their blood lead levels measured at age 11 and their mental health assessed periodically through age 38. Researchers found higher childhood blood lead levels were associated with more mental health problems throughout life and difficult adult personality traits such as being more neurotic, less agreeable and less conscientious. This was an observational study and it doesn't allow for a cause-and-effect interpretation of the association between lead and the tested outcomes.

Authors: Aaron Reuben, M.E.M., Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, and coauthors

(doi:10.1001/ jamapsychiatry.2018.4192)

Editor's Note: The article includes funding/support disclosures. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.
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JAMA Psychiatry

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