Factors associated with blood lead concentrations of children in Jamaica

Mohammad H. Rahbar, Maureen Samms-Vaughan, Aisha S. Dickerson, Katherine A. Loveland, Manouchehr Ardjomand-Hessabi, Jan Bressler, Sydonnie Shakespeare-Pellington, Megan L. Grove, Eric Boerwinkle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Lead is a heavy metal known to be detrimental to neurologic, physiologic, and behavioral health of children. Previous studies from Jamaica reported that mean lead levels in soil are four times that of lead levels in some other parts of the world. Other studies detected lead levels in fruits and root vegetables, which were grown in areas with lead contaminated soil. In this study, we investigate environmental factors associated with blood lead concentrations in Jamaican children. The participants in this study comprised 125 typically developing (TD) children (ages 2-8 years) who served as controls in an age- and sex-matched case-control study that enrolled children from 2009-2012 in Jamaica. We administered a questionnaire to assess demographic and socioeconomic information as well as potential exposures to lead through food. Using General Linear Models (GLMs), we identified factors associated with blood lead concentrations in Jamaican children. The geometric mean blood lead concentration (GMBLC) in the sample of children in this study was 2.80 μg dL-1. In univariable GLM analyses, GMBLC was higher for children whose parents did not have education beyond high school compared to those whose parents had attained this level (3.00 μg dL-1 vs. 2.31 μg dL-1; P = 0.05), children living near a high traffic road compared to those who did not (3.43 μg dL-1 vs. 2.52 μg dL-1; P < 0.01), and children who reported eating ackee compared to those who did not eat this fruit (2.89 μg dL-1 vs. 1.65 μg dL-1; P < 0.05). In multivariable analysis, living near a high traffic road was identified as an independent risk factor for higher adjusted GMBLC (3.05 μg dL-1 vs. 2.19 μg dL-1; P = 0.01). While our findings indicate that GMBLC in Jamaican children has dropped by at least 62% during the past two decades, children living in Jamaica still have GMBLC that is twice that of children in more developed countries. In addition, we have identified significant risk factors for higher blood lead concentrations in Jamaican children. We believe increasing awareness among parents regarding these risk factors could potentially lead to a lower level of lead exposure in Jamaican children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)529-539
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Environmental Science and Health - Part A Toxic/Hazardous Substances and Environmental Engineering
Volume50
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - May 12 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Children
  • Jamaica
  • food
  • lead
  • risk factors
  • road traffic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering

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