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J Med Assoc Thai. 2011 Aug;94 Suppl 3:S113-20.

Preliminary study on assessment of lead exposure in Thai children aged between 3-7 years old who live in Umphang district, Tak Province.

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Social Pediatrics Unit, Department of Pediatrics, Queen Sirikit National Institute of Child Health, College of Medicine, Rangsit University, Bangkok, Thailand.



Centers of Disease Control of the United States of America (CDC) informs Ministry of Public Health, Thailand that up to 13% of Burmese refugee children who are transferred to the United States of America during 2007-2009 have elevated blood lead levels (EBLL, Blood Lead Level > or = 10 microg/dl). These are children from a number of refugee camps in Tak Province; two camps are near Umphang but other camps are not. In June 2008, CDC, the result of investigation of Centers for Disease Control/Thailand Ministry of Public Health Collaboration (CDC/TUC) and International Organization for Migration, Thailand indicates that 33 of 64 children aged 6 months to 15 years (5.1%) who live in Mae La, Umpiem and Nupo camps have elevated blood lead level. However, no study on how Thai children who live nearby those camps are exposed to lead. Subsequently, Queen Sirikit National Institute of Child Health, Bangkok, Thailand contacts relevant organizations in Tak Province in order to investigate lead exposure and evaluate health status of Thai children who live close to Burmese refugee camps.


1) Evaluation of lead exposure of Thai children who live nearby Burmese refugee camps; 2) Assessment of risk factors on lead exposure of the children as mentioned above.


The present study adopts a retrospective study based on information gathered from health assessment on 213 Thai children aged between 3-7 years old who live nearby Burmese refugee camps. The health assessment was conducted from April 30th, 2010 to May 5th, 2010. The information is from 3 sources. The first source is from blood sampling in order to assess lead level and ferritin level. The next source is from interview of persons who provide primary care in order to identify risk factors on lead exposure of target children. The last source is from physical examination and developmental assessment conducted by pediatricians and special nurses for child development in order to identify health and developmental problems.


The population of the present study was 213 of Thai children are 3-7 years old, average age is 54.54 +/- 12.41 months-old. The average blood lead level is 7.71 +/- 4.62 microg/dl (range = 3-25 microg/dl). Elevated blood lead levels of all populations show that 57 children (26%) have blood lead level at 10 microg/dl or more. Analysis of odds by controlling all risk factors (adjusted OR) that effect on blood lead level (> or =10 microg/dl) indicates that only gender and source of drinking water are risk factors. To clarify, male children would have 2.8 times higher risk than female children. Children who drink water from tap and canal have 15 times and 72 times, respectively, higher risk than children drinking from bottle water.


The result of the present study shows that 1 of 4 of Thai children at Umphang district, Tak Province who lived near Burmese refugee camps aged between 3-7 years old have blood lead level higher than concerning level. Thus, it is necessary to identify risk factors on lead exposure and policy of blood lead screening in some areas in Thailand.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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