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Toxicology. 2013 Sep 6;311(1-2):3-12. doi: 10.1016/j.tox.2013.04.015. Epub 2013 Apr 28.

Gender differences in the neurotoxicity of metals in children.

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Centre for Public Health Research (CSISP)-FISABIO, Av. Catalunya 21, 46020 Valencia, Spain.


Gender-related differences in susceptibility to chemical exposure to neurotoxicants have not received sufficient attention. Although a significant number of epidemiological studies on the neurodevelopmental effects of metal exposure has been published in the last twenty years, not many of them have considered the possible gender-specific effects of such exposure. This review is focused on studies where the gender differences in pre- and/or postnatal exposure/s to five metals (mercury, lead, manganese, cadmium, and arsenic) and neurodevelopment were evaluated. We conducted a PubMed search in December 2012 and retrieved 20 studies that met the inclusion criteria. A large body of literature on potential neurodevelopment effects in children due to mercury exposure is available, but, a clear pattern regarding gender differences in neurotoxicity is not elucidated. There is also abundant available information on the gender-specific health effects of lead, and exposure to this metal seems to affect boys more than girls. Information regarding gender differences in susceptibility of manganese, cadmium, and arsenic is still too scarce to draw any definite conclusion. More research is highly warranted about this matter. Environmental epidemiological studies should be designed to quantify differential gender-based exposures and outcomes, and this may provide new insights into prevention strategies.


Children; Heavy metal poisoning; Nervous system; Neurological disorders; Sex

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