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Environ Health Perspect. 2002 Dec;110(12):A767-72.

Influence of nutrient intake on blood lead levels of young children at risk for lead poisoning.

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Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore 21201, USA.


Although removal of lead paint hazards from at-risk houses remains the primary means of preventing elevated blood lead among young children, reduction of risk through nutritional factors has also been of interest. In this study we evaluated the effect of nutrient intake on blood lead levels by analyzing whether the intakes of certain dietary components a) were associated with blood lead levels independent of lead exposure or b) modified the effect of lead exposure on blood lead. Subjects were 205 children from low-income families who were approximately 1 year of age and living in old, urban houses. The data collected for each child included blood lead level, nutritional status, and amount of lead exposure, which was assessed from samples of household dust. Multiple linear regression analyses showed a statistically significant positive association between lead exposure and blood lead. Statistically significant positive associations were found between blood lead and total fat as well as blood lead and saturated fat, independent of lead exposure and age of the child. Regression modeling and stratified analysis showed that mean blood lead increased with increasing lead exposure as well as with increasing caloric intake, suggesting that caloric intake modifies the association between lead exposure and blood lead. The findings from this study, if replicated in other studies, support a dietary intervention to reduce the amount of total calories, total fat, and saturated fat among children 1 year of age at risk for lead exposure, while maintaining adequate intake of these dietary components. Our results also reinforce recommendations that removal of lead paint hazards from at-risk houses should be the primary means of preventing lead exposure.

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