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Immigrant Children at High Risk for Lead Poisoning

Foreign-born children had five times the risk of elevated lead levels compared to U.S.-born children

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Foreign-born children living in the United States, and especially those who have recently immigrated, are at an increased risk of lead poisoning compared to U.S.-born children, according to an article published online Nov. 29 in the American Journal of Public Health.

Parisa Tehranifar, of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and colleagues conducted a case-control study of New York City children tested for lead poisoning in 2002 in order to determine the association between foreign birth and risk of lead poisoning. In all, 203 children meeting criteria for lead poisoning were matched with non-lead-poisoned children of similar age, residential location and test date.

After adjustment for type of housing and child behavioral risk factors, foreign-born children had a fivefold elevated risk of lead poisoning compared to U.S.-born children. In addition, children who had immigrated to the United States within six months of their blood test were almost 11 times more likely to have elevated blood lead levels than children with no history of foreign residence.

"These results suggest a need for considering recent immigration as a risk factor for childhood lead poisoning and allocating resources to identify and remove lead exposure sources in the immigrant communities at greatest risk," the authors conclude.

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