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Early exposure to lead and neuropsychological outcome in adolescence

  • M. DOUGLAS RIS (a1), KIM N. DIETRICH (a1) (a2), PAUL A. SUCCOP (a2), OMER G. BERGER (a1) and ROBERT L. BORNSCHEIN (a2)...


One hundred and ninety-five participants in the Cincinnati Lead Study were neuropsychologically evaluated in mid-adolescence. The neuropsychological measures yielded five factors labeled Memory, Learning/IQ, Attention, Visuoconstruction, and Fine-Motor. Prenatal, Average Childhood, and 78 month blood lead (PbB) levels were used in a series of multiple regression analyses. Following rigorous covariate pretesting and adjustment, a significant main effect of 78 month PbB on the Fine-Motor factor was found (p < .004). Significant interactions were also found between gender and lead exposure parameters for both Attention and Visuoconstruction indicating heightened risk in males. Finally, a trend toward significance was found for the PbB × SES interaction for Learning/IQ, consistent with previous evidence of increased educational and cognitive vulnerability for youth from more disadvantaged backgrounds. These results provide new evidence from the longest continuing prospective study of the remote effects of early lead exposure. They indicate the presence of selective neuropsychological effects in this population, and also that males and females are not uniformly affected. These results also underscore the complexity of models of neurobehavioral development, and the modest predictive power of any single determinant. (JINS, 2004, 10, 261–270.)


Corresponding author

Reprint requests to: M. Douglas Ris, Ph.D., Division of Psychology, Bldg D-4, Children's Hospital Medical Center, 3333 Burnet Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45229-3039. E-mail:


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Early exposure to lead and neuropsychological outcome in adolescence

  • M. DOUGLAS RIS (a1), KIM N. DIETRICH (a1) (a2), PAUL A. SUCCOP (a2), OMER G. BERGER (a1) and ROBERT L. BORNSCHEIN (a2)...


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