Background: Environmental lead exposure is associated with cognitive impairment in healthy children, with deficits seen in intelligence quotient (IQ), attention, and behavior. Neurocognitive dysfunction is also a well-described complication among children with chronic kidney disease (CKD). The objective was to evaluate the association between blood lead levels (BLL) and performance on neurocognitive assessments in a cohort of children with CKD. Methods: Cross-sectional study of children with mild to moderate CKD from the Chronic Kidney Disease in Children (CKiD) multicenter prospective cohort study. The primary exposure was BLL. The primary outcome was performance on age-specific neurocognitive assessments evaluating IQ, executive functioning, attention, hyperactivity, and behavior. Multivariable linear regression was used to evaluate the association between BLL and neurocognitive performance, adjusted for key sociodemographic and clinical variables. Results: A total of 412 subjects were included with median age 15.4 years, median estimated GFR 39 mL/min/1.732, median BLL 1.2 mcg/dL, and median IQ score 99. In multivariable linear regression, higher BLL was associated with significantly lower IQ score (− 2.1 IQ points for every 1-mcg/dL increase in BLL, p = 0.029). Higher BLL was associated with worse scores on the Conners’ Continuous Performance Test II Variability T-Score, a measure of inattention (+ 1.8 T-Score points for every 1-mcg/dL increase in BLL, p = 0.033). Conclusions: Low-level lead exposure is associated with significantly lower IQ and more inattention in children with CKD, a population already at high risk for neurocognitive dysfunction. Universal screening for elevated BLL should be considered for all children with CKD at age 12–24 months.
- Chronic kidney disease
- Heavy metals
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health