Neuropsychological effects of lead in children: interactions with social background variables.
ABSTRACT Following a short and selective summary of findings from psychological studies on lead-induced cognitive dysfunction in man, our own studies in lead-exposed children are briefly described in more detail. These studies, run in the cities of Duisburg and Stolberg, were based on tooth lead levels as the principal indicator of long-term cumulative lead exposure. From a comprehensive sample of neuropsychological outcome measures, only few significant findings emerged, namely lead-related deficits of visual-motor integration and of reaction performance, but not of general intelligence. Without exception, the observed lead effects were small compared to those of social background. An interesting interaction was found between lead exposure and social background for visual-motor integration and for reaction performance: for both these measures, but not for intelligence, the degree of association between performance deficit and lead exposure was more pronounced in socially disadvantaged children than in those from a more middle-class background. This finding was tentatively discussed within a transactional model of development. The common practice of simply controlling the effects of confounding social factors by analysis of covariance or related techniques appears doubtful in this context.
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ABSTRACT: The notion that maternal personality characteristics influence cognitive development in their children has been grounded in stress moderation theory. Maternal personality traits, such as self-esteem, may buffer maternal stressors or lead to improved maternal-child interactions that directly impact neurodevelopment. This can be extended to suggest that maternal personality may serve to attenuate or exacerbate the effects of other neurotoxicants, although this has not been studied directly. We examined whether mothers' self-esteem had a direct or main effect on their children's cognitive outcomes. We also explored the modifying effects of maternal self-esteem on the association between exposure to lead and neurodevelopment in these children. Study participants included 379 mother-child pairs from Mexico City. Data included the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Scale in mothers, children's Bayley's Scale of Infant Development (BSID) scores, and sociodemographic information. Linear regression was used to model the relationship between maternal self-esteem and the Bayley's Mental Development Index (MDI) and Psychomotor Development Index (PDI) scores at age 24 months using models stratified by levels of maternal self-esteem. In adjusted models, each point increase in maternal self-esteem was associated with children having 0.2 higher score on the Bayley's MDI (p=0.04). Similar results were observed using the PDI outcome. Moreover, there was evidence that maternal self-esteem attenuated the negative effects of lead exposure, although the interaction fell short of conventional levels of statistical significance.NeuroToxicology 04/2008; 29(2):278-85. DOI:10.1016/j.neuro.2007.11.006 · 3.05 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The outcomes of exposure to neurotoxic chemicals early in life depend on the properties of both the chemical and the host's environment. When our questions focus on the toxicant, the environmental properties tend to be regarded as marginal and designated as covariates or confounders. Such approaches blur the reality of how the early environment establishes enduring biologic substrates. In this commentary, we describe another perspective, based on decades of biopsychological research on animals, that shows how the early, even prenatal, environment creates permanent changes in brain structure and chemistry and behavior. Aspects of the early environment-encompassing enrichment, deprivation, and maternal and neonatal stress-all help determine the functional responses later in life that derive from the biologic substrate imparted by that environment. Their effects then become biologically embedded. Human data, particularly those connected to economically disadvantaged populations, yield equivalent conclusions. In this commentary, we argue that treating such environmental conditions as confounders is equivalent to defining genetic differences as confounders, a tactic that laboratory research, such as that based on transgenic manipulations, clearly rejects. The implications extend from laboratory experiments that, implicitly, assume that the early environment can be standardized to risk assessments based on epidemiologic investigations. The biologic properties implanted by the early social environment should be regarded as crucial elements of the translation from laboratory research to human health and, in fact, should be incorporated into human health research. The methods for doing so are not clearly defined and present many challenges to investigators.Environmental Health Perspectives 11/2006; 114(10):1479-85. · 7.03 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are common carcinogenic and neurotoxic urban air pollutants. Toxic exposures, including air pollution, are disproportionately high in communities of color and frequently co-occur with chronic economic deprivation. We examined whether the association between child IQ and prenatal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons differed between groups of children whose mothers reported high vs. low material hardship during their pregnancy and through child age 5. We tested statistical interactions between hardships and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, as measured by DNA adducts in cord blood, to determine whether material hardship exacerbated the association between adducts and IQ scores. Prospective cohort. Participants were recruited from 1998 to 2006 and followed from gestation through age 7 years. Urban community (New York City) PARTICIPANTS: A community-based sample of 276 minority urban youth EXPOSURE MEASURE: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon-DNA adducts in cord blood as an individual biomarker of prenatal polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon exposure. Maternal material hardship self-reported prenatally and at multiple timepoints through early childhood. Child IQ at 7 years assessed using the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children. Significant inverse effects of high cord PAH-DNA adducts on full scale IQ, perceptual reasoning and working memory scores were observed in the groups whose mothers reported a high level of material hardship during pregnancy or recurring high hardship into the child's early years, and not in those without reported high hardship. Significant interactions were observed between high cord adducts and prenatal hardship on working memory scores (β=-8.07, 95% CI (-14.48, -1.66) and between high cord adducts and recurrent material hardship (β=-9.82, 95% CI (-16.22, -3.42). The findings add to other evidence that socioeconomic disadvantage can increase the adverse effects of toxic physical "stressors" like air pollutants. Observed associations between high cord adducts and reduced IQ were significant only among the group of children whose mothers reported high material hardship. These results indicate the need for a multifaceted approach to prevention. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Inc.Neurotoxicology and Teratology 04/2015; 49. DOI:10.1016/j.ntt.2015.04.002 · 3.22 Impact Factor