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Med J Aust. 1999 Jan 18;170(2):63-7.

Sociodemographic and behavioural determinants of blood lead concentrations in children aged 11-13 years. The Port Pirie Cohort Study.

Author information

  • 1Public Health Research Unit, Women's and Children's Hospital, Adelaide, SA. baghurstp@wch.sa.gov.au

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To describe the determinants of blood lead concentration in children with long term environmental exposure to lead.

DESIGN:

Prospective cohort study.

SETTING:

The lead smelting town of Port Pirie, South Australia, and surrounding townships.

PARTICIPANTS:

326 children born in and around Port Pirie, 1979-1982, followed up until age 11-13 years in 1993-1994.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Blood lead concentrations assessed at birth and at multiple ages up to 11-13 years; average lifetime blood lead concentration.

RESULTS:

Mean blood lead concentration rose sharply over the ages 6 to 15 months, reached a maximum around 2 years of age, and declined steadily as the children grew older. There was no difference in blood lead concentration between boys and girls until they reached the age of 11-13 years, when mean blood lead concentration in boys (8.4 micrograms/dL [0.41 mumol/L]) was slightly higher than in girls (7.5 micrograms/dL [0.36 mumol/L]). Residential area and father's employment site were the two variables most strongly predictive of a child's blood lead concentration at the end of primary school. Poorer-quality home environment was also found to be an independent contributor to blood lead concentrations.

CONCLUSIONS:

Age-related factors, and possibly recent concerted efforts to decrease entry or re-entrainment of lead into the environment at Port Pirie, have resulted in most children in our study having blood lead concentrations below 10 micrograms/dL (0.48 mumol/L) at the end of their primary school years. Lead exposure during a child's early years remains an important contributor to average lifetime exposure.

PMID:
10026685
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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