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
Higher 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
Both studies are
detailed in PLoS Medicine.