Case Western study finds high levels of lead in Cleveland children, potentially impacting their development and behavior

Published: Jan. 9, 2019 at 7:19 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - A new study is shedding light on a disturbing trend: high levels of lead in Cleveland’s young children.

That recent study, done at Case Western Reserve University, puts a spotlight on the ill effects on children and their ability to learn and behave well.

“It begins to change the way the brain functions in a young child, and it hits at the time, particularly in that 1-3 period where the most brain development is occurring, so it’s particularly jeopardizing. We see it playing out both in how children learn as well as their social and emotional functioning, their behavior,” said Robert Fischer, associate professor of the Mandel School, Case Western Reserve University

Exposure to lead in Cleveland is having immediate and long-term health effects on children. What is often thought of as a child misbehaving may actually be his or her involuntary reaction to lead in their bodies.

Experts say lead is a toxicant that ends up in the soft tissue of the body, the brain, liver, the kidneys and even bone. Lead interrupts the way the brain forms connections, putting children at a learning disadvantage.

“We see the behavior, which can be frustrating and challenging for those that are providing care to young children. But, I think having the knowledge that it is a predecessor event in the form of lead exposure could help us better understand and moderate our responses to those situations,” he said.

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