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J Pediatr. 2012 Jun;160(6):1044-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2011.12.022. Epub 2012 Jan 28.

Windows of lead exposure sensitivity, attained height, and body mass index at 48 months.

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  • 1Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.



To examine longitudinal associations of prenatal, infancy, and early childhood lead exposure during sensitive periods with height and body mass index (BMI).


A total of 773 participants were recruited between 1994 and 2005 in Mexico City. Lead exposure history categories were constructed for the prenatal period (maternal patellar lead concentration) and for infancy and childhood (mean child blood lead concentration at birth to 24 months and 30-48 months, respectively). Linear regression models were used to study lead exposure history with height and BMI at 48 months.


Mean height at age 48 months was significantly lower in children with a blood lead level exceeding the median during infancy (-0.84 cm; 95% CI, -1.42 to -0.25) than in children with a level below the median. Prenatal lead exposure was not associated with height at 48 months. Results for attained BMI generally trended in the same direction as for height.


Our findings suggest an effect of lead exposure early in life on height attainment at 48 months, with the exposure window of greatest sensitivity in infancy.

Copyright © 2012 Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.

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