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Am J Public Health. 2011 Jan;101(1):48-54. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2009.184408. Epub 2010 Nov 18.

Blood lead levels of refugee children resettled in Massachusetts, 2000 to 2007.

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  • 1Department of Community and Preventive Medicine, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.



We described elevated blood lead level (BLL; ≥ 10 μg/dL) prevalence among newly arrived refugee children in Massachusetts. We also investigated the incidence of BLL increases and BLLs newly elevated to 20 μg/dL or higher in the year following initial testing, along with associated factors.


We merged data from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's Refugee and Immigrant Health Program and the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program on 1148 refugee children younger than 7 years who arrived in Massachusetts from 2000 to 2007.


Elevated BLL prevalence was 16% among newly arrived refugee children. The rate ratio for BLL elevation to 20 μg/dL or higher after arrival was 12.3 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 6.2, 24.5) compared with children in communities the state defines as high-risk for childhood lead exposure. Residence in a census tract with older housing (median year built before 1950) was associated with a higher rate of BLL increases after resettlement (hazard ratio = 1.7; 95% CI = 1.2, 2.3).


Refugee children are at high risk of lead exposure before and after resettlement in Massachusetts. A national surveillance system of refugee children's BLLs following resettlement would allow more in-depth analysis.

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