Even a Little Lead Exposure Not a Good Thing for Kids' Test Scores

Filed under: In The News, Research Reveals: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Research Reveals: Big Kids, Research Reveals: Tweens

Lead Exposure

kids who ingest even small amounts of lead do worse later on in school tests than kids who stick to a strict lead-free diet. Credit: Getty Images

Let this be lesson to you, kids. Stop eating all those lead-based snacks.

The cultural messages are everywhere -- especially in movies about the old West: "Eat lead." But even though the first thing you want to do after a long day of school is grab yourself a nice big bowl of lead, resist the temptation.

That stuff can really lower your test scores.

The Boston Herald reports kids who ingest even small amounts of lead do worse on school tests later on than kids who stick to a strictly lead-free diet.

Lead is a major ingredient in paint residue, dust, Chinese-made toys and other items that end up in the mouths of babes -- especially poor babes.

The Herald reports Duke University researchers found poor children are more likely to have lead in their systems than their more affluent classmates, adding that educators call the Duke study a reminder that even very low levels of lead exposure can hurt children.

"It's compelling evidence," Francesca Provenzano, health program supervisor for the Connecticut Department of Public Health, tells the newspaper. "I think it provides even greater awareness to parents, medical providers and advocates that lead poisoning is a serious issue and prevention is key."

Researchers studied 35,000 Connecticut children exposed to lead before age 7. Then they looked at the kids' scores on the 2008 and 2009 standardized Connecticut Mastery Tests.

The greater the lead exposure, in turns out, the lower the test scores.

Researchers for the Children's Environmental Health Initiative at Duke came to the same conclusion after studying North Carolina students in 2009, the Herald reports.

Lead was banned in house paint, cookware and products marketed to children in the United States in 1978. But it still shows up, particularly in poor homes, and kids (being kids) will suck on toys with lead-based paints.

While adults need to keep lead away from kids, kids need to keep lead away from themselves. So when your teacher says "get the lead out," she means it.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.