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Neurotoxicol Teratol. 2007 Sep-Oct;29(5):527-37. Epub 2007 Aug 16.

The relation of low-level prenatal lead exposure to behavioral indicators of attention in Inuit infants in Arctic Quebec.

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Public Health Research Unit, CHUQ Research Center (CHUL), Sainte-Foy, Québec, Canada G1V 2M2.


The aim of this study was to investigate the association between prenatal exposure to lead (Pb) and several aspects of behavioral function during infancy through examiner ratings and behavioral coding of video recordings. The sample consisted of 169 11-month-old Inuit infants from Arctic Quebec. Umbilical cord and maternal blood samples were used to document prenatal exposure to Pb. Average blood Pb levels were 4.6 mug/dL and 5.9 mug/dL in cord and maternal samples respectively. The Behavior Rating Scales (BRS) from the Bayley Scales of Infant Development (BSID-II) were used to assess behavior. Attention was assessed through the BRS and behavioral coding of video recordings taken during the administration of the BSID-II. Whereas the examiner ratings of behaviors detected very few associations with prenatal Pb exposure, cord blood Pb concentrations were significantly related to the direct observational measures of infant attention, after adjustment for confounding variables. These data provide evidence that increasing the specificity and the precision of the behavioral assessment has considerable potential for improving our ability to detect low-to-moderate associations between neurotoxicants, such Pb and infant behavior.

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