Researchers from the University of Cincinnati have revealed that lead exposure during childhood may increase the likelihood of criminal behavior in later life.
These findings are based on two studies that looked at lead exposure in children in the US. In the first study blood lead levels of pregnant women and 250 children were tallied with the criminal justice records available locally.
AdvertisementHigher lead levels before birth and during early childhood were directly implicated in arrests in youth over the age of 18. This means "early exposure to lead as a risk factor for behaviors leading to criminal arrest," the researchers led by Dr Kim Dietrich revealed.
The second study involved 157 teenagers aged 15 to 16 who were residing in lead contaminated homes. The researchers found that high lead levels resulted in brain shrinkage. "This analysis suggests that adverse cognitive and behavioral outcomes may be related to lead's effect on brain development producing persistent alterations in structure," said the researchers.
Both studies are detailed in PLoS Medicine.