HealthDay News — Higher blood lead concentrations were associated with increased risk for behavioral problems among Chinese preschoolers, according to researchers.

“Continued monitoring of blood lead concentrations, as well as clinical assessments of mental behavior during regular pediatric visits, may be warranted,” Jianghong Liu, PhD, from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues reported in JAMA Pediatrics.

They conducted a prospective cohort study that included blood lead levels from 1,341 children aged 3 to 5 years from four preschools in Jintan, Jiangsu province of China. Behavioral problems were assessed when the children were aged 6 years. Mean blood lead concentration was 6.4 µg/dL.

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Blood lead concentrations were significantly associated with scores for teacher-reported behavioral problems, the researchers found.

Teacher-reported behavioral scores on emotional reactivity, anxiety problems, and pervasive developmental problems increased by 0.322, 0.253, and 0.303, respectively, with each 1-µg/dL increase in blood lead concentrations (P<0.05), after the adjustment for parental and child variables.

Mean teacher-reported behavior scores increased with blood lead concentrations in spline modeling, particularly for older girls.


  1. Lui J et al. JAMA Psychiatry. 2014; doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.332.