Lead Exposure News

October 25, 2004

Lead exposure may prevent full brain injury recovery

A new study on young rats exposed to low levels of lead may show one more reason why preventing lead exposure early in life is so important. According to a professor of pathology, anatomy and cell biology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, even low levels of lead exposure can have serious effects on the structure and function of developing nervous system and cause attention, memory, learning, emotional and other behavioral problems that last into adulthood.

Many children suffer brain injuries and many children have also been exposed to levels of lead higher than outlined by federal guidelines to be safe. Every year, more than 434,000 children nationwide between the ages of one and five have harmful levels of lead in their blood. Based on the new study, young rats exposed to low levels of lead take significantly longer to recover from a brain-injury than those animals that were not exposed to lead.

When creating the brain damage, the researchers said all the animals initially made errors, but the control animals very quickly recovered and made far fewer mistakes in the next week. The lead poisoned animals took longer to improve and showed much less improvement. The researchers want to examine the effects of lead poisoning on recovery from brain injury over a longer period of time, as well as to determine if lead poisoned animals eventually recover to the same degree as the unexposed animals. In addition, the researchers hope to determine if there is a threshold for lead exposure and its effects on the brain's ability to recover following a brain injury.

 

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